News : Customer Service Faulted at Motor Vehicle Division
Honolulu, Sept 5, 2014 -- The Honolulu agency that issues driver's licenses and state identification cards has serious customer service problems, a city audit has concluded.
The report presented last week to the Honolulu City Council by city auditor Edwin Young said a longtime bureaucrat stalled or ignored planned improvements and sacrificed customer service for following procedure and completing transactions efficiently.
"The inability of (department) managers to provide oversight or direction to a former MVLP administrator affected driver licensing operations," the audit concluded.
The former head of the Motor Vehicle, Licensing and Permits Division, Dennis Kamimura said in response that division staff strictly followed federal and state laws, and shortcuts could have opened the city to legal liabilities, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. The division is part of the Department of Customer Services.
Director Sheri Kajiwara said the department has tried to address complaints of long lines and waiting times. Efforts were stymied, Kajiwara said, by the refusal of a respected veteran administrator to make changes and a state requirement that people show proof of residency to renew licenses.
Kamimura retired Nov. 1. He denied blocking efforts by the Caldwell administration to improve customer service. He stood by his record, he said by email.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell took office in January 2013. In the weeks afterward, responsibility for issuing ID cards switched from the state Department of Transportation to the city, along with new, tougher requirements for documentation. As waiting times lengthened, news stories showed customers camping overnight to obtain a first-come, first-served slot for a driver's road test.
Honolulu City Council members ordered the audit in March 2013. It concluded that management and staff were unconcerned with providing high quality customer service to the public.
The division should have been more proactive in anticipating lengthy processing times, the audit said. Division managers chose not to accept all nine of the transfers of state workers offered by the state Transportation Department.
The division driver's license section in August 2013 had 86 authorized full-time positions and 22 were vacant, the audit said.
As of Wednesday, where were 10 vacancies, Kajiwara said, and 15 within the entire division.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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