First, the good news.
The Kansas Department of Revenue has cut several dozen employees, thus saving Kansas taxpayers almost $2 million a year.
The bad news is, some of these employees worked for the Department of Motor Vehicles, whose duties would soon be shifted to the counties. Along with the transfer of responsibility, the DMV has imposed a new, monstrous computer system.
Clerks in Johnson County are required to perform the functions at the DMV windows. The new computer system is much more cumbersome, causing long waits at those windows. To be clear, the registering of vehicles is a state function, but it is carried out by county employees.
Johnson County has found it necessary to hire 16 additional people at an estimated cost to our budget of $800,000 a year, in order to deal with the backlog caused by the new system.
And that’s just Johnson County. Other large counties throughout the state may have to add employees to handle the new, wonky computer system, resulting in intolerable waits to register vehicles or renew titles.
Johnson County asked the state to go back to the old system. Johnson County has asked the state to allow their informational technology personnel to take a behind-the-scenes look at the computer system. They were finally granted that request last week.
The infamous new computer system that has led to hours and hours of wait times to register vehicles is still not functioning correctly, months after it was first implemented.
This fiasco could have been avoided by extensive, real-time testing in large population counties before launching a statewide change.
What we should have learned from this last travesty is that the new computer system requires far more effort by each clerk, thus doubling their time in handling each client.
Now, it was not supposed to be this way, of course. But it is. And in addition, computer glitches — including total computer crashes — have just added to the misery.
That has spilled over to the county treasurer’s office, who is the agent for the state for vehicle new titles and renewal titles.
A call to the treasurer’s office, to their Department of Motor Vehicles, now takes about a half an hour to get an answer.
So, now, even our well-run, usually efficient county has become a Russian-type bureaucratic nightmare, all because of what the state has done.
The buck stops at Nick Jordan, the Kansas secretary of the Department of Revenue and a former state legislator from Johnson County, who oversees the DMV. He approved the new system, which was greatly flawed, and thrust it on the state without adequate experimentation and preparation.
The worst may not be over. This fall, the Drivers’ License bureaus will get a new statewide computer system. Ominously, we all have every right to be concerned that soon there will be hours-long waits to renew our driver’s license.
If the new computer changeover for the Drivers’ License bureaus ends up with the same kind of results, heads should roll, and that includes Jordan’s.
| Special to The Star