BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Leaders of the Office of Motor Vehicles assured state lawmakers Friday they are working to shrink wait times for people renewing their driver's licenses and registering their vehicles, amid complaints that some customers have been stuck in line for hours.
Lawmakers said they've received complaints that waits have spiked for people seeking to handle routine tasks.
"The general public feels like that with the fees they pay for licenses that there are enough dollars there that the office should have less wait times, better service," said Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.
Col. Mike Edmonson, who oversees the Office of Motor Vehicles as head of the Department of Public Safety, told lawmakers that he was enacting changes to speed up visits to locations around Louisiana.
Edmonson cited "express lanes" set up at larger OMV offices to deal with simple tasks like license renewals, the expansion of a privatization effort that allows people to renew licenses elsewhere and improvements to the website so people can do more business online.
"We continue to work toward bringing that wait time down," Edmonson said.
He said the average wait time was 30 minutes or less, but he acknowledged that he was giving special attention to an office in New Orleans where the time in line can be much longer.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans, said he waited nearly four hours for service at his local motor vehicles office, the one singled out by Edmonson as a problem area.
"We need to do something, because it was awful for people to wait three and four hours just to renew a driver's license," Murray said.
Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, said in rural St. Helena Parish only one worker staffs the OMV office. Edwards said people have reported going to the office to find it closed because the employee was administering a driving test.
Edmonson said the agency is moving staff around to alleviate lengthy waits. He said in small offices they've started to set aside specific days for driving tests so the office can send in another employee to help out.
A report issued earlier this year by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Office said wait times have shot up as Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration dropped staffing levels amid continuing budget cuts.
When Murray asked if Edmonson needed more people, he said no.
Edmonson said the office plans to set up an incentive pay plan to give bonuses to workers that help cut wait times and improve customer service.
He said the agency also is trying out self-service vehicle registration kiosks at some locations and is continuing to expand a privatization program that allows outside contractors, known as public tag agents, to handle driver's license renewals for up to an extra $18 fee.
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Posted on Tue, September 23, 2014
by Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press