The Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed Monday that its director, Jean Shiomoto, will retire after three decades with the department and a tumultuous final year.
“Director Shiomoto announced to staff last month her intent to retire at the end of the year after 38 years in state service,” the DMV said in a statement. Brown on Monday named the DMV's chief deputy director, Bill Davidson, as acting director beginning Dec. 31.
Shiomoto previously served as an auditor with the California Department of Developmental Services and had a wide range of responsibilities at the DMV. She took over as acting director in January 2013. Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her as the department’s full-time director in November 2013.
During Shiomoto’s tenure, the department struggled with the technological side of implementing new laws, including the state’s Motor Voter program, which launched earlier this year to automatically register people to vote when they visit the DMV. The department announced in September that it had improperly registered thousands of Californians through the program. The DMV has also faced increased challenges with issuing federally mandated Real ID cards.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said last week that Shiomoto had “lost my confidence and trust,” and he called on Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom to “promptly appoint new leadership at the DMV.”
Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a regular critic of Shiomoto's, has long said he lacks confidence in the director and said the news of her retirement was “inevitable, given the history of the failures of the DMV.”
He said the DMV’s next director should have a background in personnel management and technology.
“This gives the incoming governor the opportunity of taking a very deep, hard look at the director position and team of people that the director puts around them,” Patterson said. “The DMV failure has been a leadership failure.”
The state Department of Finance has solicited public comment for a performance audit it's conducting into the agency.
Shiomoto was unavailable for comment. She will have a retirement dinner in Sacramento on Jan. 23 to celebrate her long service in state government.
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