California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, slammed in a state audit for slipshod customer service and being poorly prepared for the rollout of federally approved driver’s licenses, will close its offices statewide for a half-day to train staff on doing a better job.
The closure will happen Wednesday, July 24, so plan accordingly. Every field office, including the three in Fresno and Clovis, will be closed until 1 p.m.
In a news release, the DMV says the training will better prepare employees for processing driver’s licenses that meet the Real ID standard — airport security checkpoints won’t accept cards without special markings after Oct. 1, 2020. California residents must apply in person at DMV offices to get the federally mandated cards.
An audit released in March by the state Department of Finance said the DMV suffered from “significant deficiencies in planning and implementation” of the processing of Real ID cards. People sometimes waited for hours in line to get the cards.
The angst surrounding Real ID was merely one lowlight of the DMV’s numerous weaknesses, which include outdated computers and problems with scheduling appointments, the audit said.
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Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican, has been one of the loudest critics of the DMV at the state Capitol. In a column written for Calmatters, Patterson said the department “has been a source of frustration for employees and customers for as long as anyone can remember.”
Days after the DMV audit was released, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would seek $168 million to hire more than 1,100 new DMV employees and make other department improvements to reduce wait times and streamline the Real ID process. The funding is part of a major overhaul of the DMV that Newsom ordered in January.
The July 24 training is a part of what the DMV labels, without a hint of irony, Operation Excellence.
The department’s call centers will remain open while the offices are closed. The phone number is (800) 777-0133. People also will be able to make appointments, renew a vehicle’s registration, or change an address at the DMV website.
“The unprecedented complexity of the Real ID requirements is what led to … the extraordinary step of closing DMV offices for a short time to make sure all employees have consistent information in order to complete the transactions successfully,” Marybel Batjer, who is leading the Operation Excellence effort, said in a statement.