- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday said it could take several months to improve service at the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is the subject of plans he is scheduled to present today.

But the DMV, which has come under scrutiny and criticism recently, is one of the city's best performing agencies, according to the mayor's own "scorecard." It is meeting or exceeding its four performance goals on the D.C. government's Web site (www.dc.gov/mayor/scorecard).

"We will talk about the problems with the DMV tomorrow, and there are a lot of things we are going to do to effect improvements in the agency," Mr. Williams said at his weekly news briefing yesterday.

Declining to answer questions, the mayor said he will join members of the D.C. Council and DMV Director Sherryl Hobbs Newman at a news conference today to discuss his six-point plan to revamp the agency.

Mr. Williams said the agency's new "Destiny" computer system and new policies on collecting fines have slowed service.

Wait times at DMV service centers have grown longer since Destiny was activated in April, even though the scorecard indicates waits getting shorter.

Doug Smith, DMV's special assistant on performance management, is responsible for updating the scorecard. He said the performance goals and results are updated quarterly. DMV's scorecard has not been updated since Jan. 31.

"We are in the process of updating them now, but we are trying to do them more frequently, at least monthly," Mr. Smith said.

The goals are selected based on "the most important services the agency is responsible for," he said.

The Washington Times inquired about the average wait times for the Penn Branch, Brentwood and C Street offices yesterday. But a power failure at DMV headquarters at 501 C St. NW shut down the computer that updates wait times in real time.

Residents yesterday said service has not improved.

Anna Saunders, 67, waited for nearly an hour and 45 minutes at Brentwood yesterday to register her car.

"When I came, at first there was a line around the building," Mrs. Saunders said.

Her son, Roy, 45, said he waited "three hours last month to get my registration."

The only center that has not developed significant wait times is Georgetown. DMV officials have told The Times that Georgetown is less used by residents because most customers live closer to the Northeast and Southeast offices.

Some members of the D.C. Council are threatening to intervene with legislation if the mayor has no plan in place within two weeks.

Council member Kevin Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat, pulled his legislation that would void parking tickets that are more than 4 years old.

Council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican who heads the Public Works Committee, said she has worked with all the parties involved to assemble a comprehensive proposal that would bring relief to residents who have experienced long lines and other service problems.

The DMV has drawn harsh criticism following reports that it has wrongly collected nearly $18 million from drivers it had overbilled over the past 20 years.

Agency officials have said that they will try to reimburse those drivers, but that overbilling is likely to continue even with the new computer system.


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