- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Members of the D.C. Council sharply questioned Department of Motor Vehicles officials and the District's chief technology officer about residents' complaints about the DMV's new Destiny computer system in a late afternoon hearing yesterday.
The hearing called by council member Carol Schwartz, who chairs the Committee on Public Works and the Environment was packed with angry D.C. residents, all eager to share horror stories about long lines and unfair fines at the DMV.
Mrs. Schwartz, at-large Republican, was critical of the DMV's inauguration in April of the computer system a system that enables the DMV to track overdue taxes, child-support payments and unpaid tickets back as many as 10 years. The system, according to some residents, is also full of bugs.
"We are asking them for too much, too early with this system," Mrs. Schwartz said.
Marvin Tucker is one resident who could not wait to testify.
"The DMV wants me to pay $1,710 on tickets for a car I had junked on Nov 10, 1997," said Mr. Tucker, 44, who lives on Evarts Street NE.
Mr. Tucker showed The Washington Times the 20 tickets that were issued in 1999 and 2000, two to three years after he had the car junked.
His registration and license expire next month, and the inspection sticker on his vehicle will be invalid after June 13.
Council member Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, quoted an e-mail from a disgruntled resident.
"My God, even people are considered dead after seven years," Mr. Fenty said, reading from the note.
Mrs. Schwartz said at the hearing that she discovered more problems with Destiny than DMV Director Sherryl Hobbs Newman and Chief Technology Officer Suzanne Peck have let on.
She said her investigation led her to a report released by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, which uses a similar system called Genesis.
"Destiny is another generation of the Genesis system. It has been revamped, probably as a result of some lessons [Deloitte & Touche] learned in Nevada," said Tom Jacobs, a spokesman for the Nevada DMV.
The Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group is contracted to manage the District's Destiny system.
Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles Director Ginny Lewis said that the program "was not very user friendly, and my employees only became familiar and comfortable with [Genesis] a little over a year after the system was launched."
She said the system had to undergo several "application changes" in the first year to get rid of bugs, which confused employees.
Mrs. Schwartz said the early problems with Genesis are the same the District is experiencing: long lines and slow service at DMV counters.
"We have heard from workers in the DMV who have said the program is very cumbersome," she said.
The Times reported yesterday that Mrs. Peck said Destiny has not been formally accepted by the city because it had several bugs that had to be worked out. Mrs. Newman and Mrs. Peck held a press conference with Mayor Anthony A. Williams to "roll out" the system for the public to see.
Mrs. Schwartz said that her "hearing will not be a show-and-tell on the Destiny system. We will get into the real problems."
Two problems Nevada had, Mr. Jacobs said, were employee training and telecommunications.
"The telecommunications problem was solved within two days of the system being uploaded," Mr. Jacobs said
But the employee training was an ongoing problem for more than a year.
Mrs. Newman said that she was warned by "Nevada not to cross-train our employees on every function of the software during the early stages."
More than 33 residents signed up to testify, and several clapped for council members as they criticized the computer system and the DMV policies associated with it.
Ronald McIntyre, who lives in Southeast, said, "You all need to make a complete change in the motor-vehicles department."
Mr. McIntyre said he received thousands of dollars worth of tickets for a Mercedes Benz and a Mercury he didn't own.
"They told me, 'If they ain't yours, they're yours now,'" he said of DMV employees after testifying.
Mrs. Schwartz said that when people get tickets for cars they don't own, "That's a no-brainer."
H.J. Brier contributed to this report.

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