Executives Discuss 5 Tech Opportunities at DMV Vendor Day

California Department of Motor Vehicles executives connected virtually with hundreds of technology company representatives at DMV Vendor Day 2020, the department's second such event after an initial success last fall. Agency deputy directors discussed five areas across their enterprise where tech could make a positive difference.

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Executives at the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which is in the midst of a technology modernization, connected with several hundred representatives of tech companies to review their ongoing needs at DMV Vendor Day 2020.

The event, the second of its type after a successful initial outing in October, was held online Wednesday in an effort to update the private sector on DMV’s accomplishments during the past 11 months – but also discuss potential opportunities for vendors as the agency grapples with high customer demand amid limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Director Steve Gordon and Digital Transformation Officer Ajay Gupta joined DMV deputy directors in explaining how technology could resolve five key agency issues. Post-session questions from vendors can be sent to DMV Public Affairs; DMV will post a URL for vendors to submit narrative responses, and Techwire will update this article to include it. Submissions are due by Sept. 25. Qualified/selected vendors will be notified by Oct. 9; and a pitch day with 15-minute presentations will be held in mid-October. DMV seeks answers to the following five problem statements.

Appointment strategies for field offices. DMV offices averaged about 1.9 million customer appointments per month prior to COVID – some with multiple transactions – and of those, about 469,000 were customers visiting field offices. Appointments on typical transactions were booked 45 to 60 days out, though COVID has “significantly reduced our ability and capacity to serve customers,” said Coleen Solomon, DMV deputy director for field operations. The agency doesn’t capture the number of people who booked duplicate appointments, or who wanted an appointment but didn’t get one. DMV wants to improve the availability of appointments for “planned visits,” according to a slide presentation, by controlling or limiting customer intake; guarding appointments against bots; preventing the resharing of reserved slots; and redirecting service requests to “alternate channels.” The department is considering redirecting customers to alternate channels such as online when they seek appointments; having “no appointment model” for drivers' licenses and registrations; creating an “appointments only model” for field office visits; limiting appointments to a few days or weeks at a time or by geographical location or time; and making them subject to a customer readiness assessment; and placing appointments behind an identity management solution.

“Life doesn’t happen by appointment but we need to have a really good balance for walk-in services as well as appointments,” Solomon said.

Workforce scheduling optimization during furloughs and COVID uncertainties. DMV has about 10,000 employees and averages a roughly 20 percent leave rate comprised of sick leave and vacation hours. Furlough days necessitated by the current economic crisis add another two days a month or about another 10 percent, said Robert Crockett, DMV deputy director of the administrative services division. Many DMV job classifications are “utilized across multiple divisions,” according to a slide, creating the possibility of sharing a part of the workforce to harmonize supply and demand. DMV seeks “integrated solutions” that use human resources and operational data to create “optimal models” to customer demand and available resources – while offering chances to collect data for supply and demand modeling. The department is considering creating a time and attendance system with “operational data analytics” to inform “availability decisions”; implementing a workforce management solution with time reporting, AI-based demand analytics and other resources to guide the placement of resources; and implementing an “entire human capital management solution” for the enterprise and a “contact center-centric solution,” per the slide presentation.

“This is something that we need today. It’s not something that we’re looking at … in the future,” Crockett said.

Optimizing the availability of driving tests. DMV typically schedules 150,000 driving tests per month, but it has 608 licensing-registration examiners (LRE) at 178 locations statewide – a “finite amount of people,” Solomon said. Each LRE conducts from 12 to 440 driving tests per month depending on location – and the agency is working on the “pent-up demand” from when offices closed for about six weeks during the pandemic and a bit more than 280 driving tests had to be rescheduled. DMV is seeking “creative ideas” to optimize the proper scheduling of driving tests to ensure 100 percent use of available resources, including accounting for test recipients who don’t show up. Ideas being considered include using “identity validation” and multiple appointment checks to target “illegal appointment hoarding”; overbooking based on no-shows; creating a waitlist with appointment day confirmation or cancellation; and moving LREs to locations with more demand for tests.

Managing and optimizing call center workloads. DMV, which fields 382 agents in three call centers – with 75 percent of them teleworking – handled 2.9 million calls in August. About 73 percent were handled by interactive voice response (IVR), which left around 800,000 calls for agents to answer. DMV wants to reduce its call wait time, which averaged 2 hours, 23 minutes in August, by “introducing data-driven tools that can help us adjust the contact center operation” based on trends, queries and trending events, said Sonia Huestis, deputy director of DMV’s customer services division. The agency would like to get call wait times down under 15 minutes during hours of peak demand without significantly augmenting its workforce.

DMV is considering using smart assistant tech to redirect callers to automated answers, and integrating that tech to fulfill service request using API and bots, according to a slide shown. It’s considering recording and analyzing speech-to-text transcriptions for “call intent analysis”; offering “alternate fulfillment channels” to cut call volume; and doing Just In Time call topic capture and analytics to adjust FAQs, smart assistant content and IVR.

An integration strategy for sharing driver identification information across states. The DMV wants to ensure drivers who hold driver’s licenses or ID cards that are federally compliant with Real ID aren’t able to have more than one in multiple states. Ahead of a potential “Real ID bounce” or increase in interest as the October 2021 deadline to obtain the federally mandated ID approaches, DMV wants to “explore the use of a unique identifier versus the Social Security number that is currently required in the minimum data elements,” Chief Deputy Director Kathleen Webb said. The department hopes to “seek a solution to develop this alternative data element … while meeting the spirit of the Real ID act but limiting reliance on the Social Security number” – and without disrupting the current State to State (S2S) verification service, which the state hasn’t yet joined, she added. Ideas being considered are use of a “pseudo” Social Security number for all residents when matching via S2S; and creation of “a parallel system that is hosted for states with undocumented resident licensing programs,” according to a slide.

That’s one part of this final problem statement. DMV also wants to seek a solution that “better synchs driver data systems to provide real-time reporting” of non-commercial driver history and behavior, to enable more transparency into violations here and in other states. Ideas being considered are a one-time, full scan of the National Driver Registry to understand the scope of the so-called “gap population”; and building a “cadence” with NDR to obtain matched data. The state has issued more than 8.6 million Real IDs – as well as around 12 million “non-compliant” cards that are not Real IDs.

Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.