During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Department of Motor Vehicles was forced to close its doors and shift to a primarily digital approach.
Now, the director of the DMV says the department is looking to make some of those changes permanent in a bid to become “more modern and agile.”
To that end, the DMV is asking for more than $60 million in funding in the state budget that will go into effect in July.
Despite the troubles of COVID-19, Director Steve Gordon said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee that the agency was able to build digital elements that allowed it to continue serving California residents.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” Gordon said.
With the new funding he’s requesting, Gordon said the DMV will shift to a mobile-first strategy, one where customers can meet nearly all their needs without ever stepping foot inside a branch office.
“That will be a major revamp to the DMV’s legacy system,” he said.
The department is also seeking nearly $40 million in state funds for facilities projects, which includes nearly $29 million for space consolidation.
“Like many state agencies, we have over time continued to expand our footprint,” Gordon said.
Given that so many DMV employees are working remotely now, the department is looking to reconfigure workspaces and shrink the agency’s footprint, particularly in the Sacramento area.
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That said, the branch offices aren’t going away, Gordon said.
“We’re still going to need a retail presence,” he said.
But, as the agency continues to shift toward a primary digital approach, those retail spaces are going to look different, Gordon said.
“You will see fewer people in a DMV office,” he said. “The number of things you need to do in the office is really, really limited.”
He said that the primary thing people will need to still come in for is to get their REAL ID. The federal government recently extended the deadline for getting the REAL ID to May 3, 2023.
Gordon said his office has served 10.3 million REAL ID customers so far, and needs to reach another 15 million to 16 million people before the May 2023 deadline comes.
This story was originally published June 8, 2021 2:39 PM.