Va. DMV excavates backlog

SPECIAL REPORT: State & Local Innovations | New document imaging system improves efficiency, access

Project at a glance

WHO: Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

MISSION: To promote security, safety and service through the administration of motor vehicle and tax-related laws

WHAT WAS: The DMV microfilmed, manually indexed and stored at headquarters 8 million to 10 million documents a year.

WHAT IS: DMV implemented a document-imaging and content-management system to capture, store and manage records. In a three-phase process, the system will let all DMV affiliates convert other files to electronic images, and decentralize title and driver's license application scanning.

USERS: Seventy-three customer service centers, 35 DMV Select locations and 1,106 online car dealer centers.

IMPACT: Phase I has eliminated the six-month to seven-month microfilming backlog, $500,000 postal fee, plus efficiency, indexing and retrieval problems.

COST: Phase I cost approximately $788,000, which covers equipment and maintenance for one year.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles knows a lot about bottlenecks and backups, and not just the kind on the roads. Until recently, employees handling DMV's records were stuck in a 2.5 million-document backlog that stretched, in terms of time, six months or more.

But a new digital document imaging system, which replaced an old microfilm system, has eliminated the paper pile-up.

'This is the next best thing to sliced bread. It's awesome,' said Theresa Gonyo, Virginia DMV's director of data management. 'I've worked on a lot of projects since being here, but nothing that quite measures up to this. It's phenomenal.'

Direct access

The new enterprise content management system lets workers at customer service centers, DMV Select locations and online dealer centers process paperwork and scan documents directly into the system. rather than shipping them to headquarters to be microfilmed, officials said.

The department processes 8 million to 10 million licensing, titling and other documents annually. Efficiency was a problem with the old microfilm system, officials said.

With the new system, Information Access Systems Inc. of Orlando, Fla., eliminated the department's backlog of 2.5 million documents in nine months.

The old system required workers to send documentation such as driver's license applications, titles, conviction and accident reports, and undelivered mail'each of which could be a paper document, e-mail or fax'to DMV headquarters.

At headquarters, documents would be microfilmed, then destroyed. The microfilm would be manually indexed and stored, which led to problems.

'We were losing documents and making data entry errors,' Gonyo said.

Retrieving information stored on microfilm was difficult, too. Internal users at DMV work centers and field offices, and external users such as law enforcement and insurance agencies, attorneys and titling services, required DMV to retrieve and research documents daily, Gonyo said.

'We could never find the documents we needed, and when we did ... we'd have to copy it several times before we got one we could use,' Gonyo said.

DMV had 39 full-time and nine part-time employees indexing and retrieving all documents, yet still could not keep up.

The Virginia State Library's retention requirements call for DMV documentation to be kept on record for eight to 23 years. As part of their duties, staff members had to locate and discard information that was past its retention date.

To compound the problem, the Real ID Act goes into effect in 2008, requiring citizens to show additional proof of identity when acquiring a driver's license. This produces even more paperwork for DMV to process. Officials said Virginia already is complying with the federal mandate.

With all the documents coming in to headquarters, requests for retrieval, expunging of old records and new requirements for more documentation, the workers accumulated a six-to-seven-month backlog, Gonyo said. As if that wasn't enough, the DMV staff was running out of room to store documents waiting to be microfilmed.

DMV posted a request for proposals for a digital document imaging enterprise content management system. The department chose IAS.

IAS implemented OnBase software from Hyland Software Inc. of Cleveland to capture, store and manage documents. IAS also integrated Taskmaster forms-processing software from Datacap Inc. of Tarrytown, N.Y., and bar code recognition technology and Kodak scanners.

'We started working with the vendor in January 2005, and in May, after only 90 working days'the contract said 120'we implemented Phase I,' Gonyo said.

Phased implementation

Due to financial and change-management concerns, DMV is implementing the new technology in three phases.

'Phase I allows us to image all high-volume documents, accident and conviction reports, and judgement abstracts. And, now we can do auto-indexing and retrieval,' Gonyo said.

Workers at various DMV locations can process paperwork in their offices by scanning the document directly into the system. It is then bar-coded and filed.
The new system eliminated $500,000 a year in postage fees, and the paper trail that led to DMV headquarters.

DMV also addressed their backlog problem, 'which wasn't even a part of the contract,' Gonyo said.

Officials said the new system also enhances security by creating a privacy log that lets them see who looked at any document on the system at any time.

The new bar-coding system makes retrieval of documents easier as well. The system stores all scanned and bar-coded documents on a mainframe accessible from any computer in headquarters, customer service or customer contact centers.

'If anyone needed a copy of a title, driver's license, judgement or accident report, we would have to e-mail headquarters and ask them to find it,' Gonyo said. 'We'd have to look at index values. Go get it in the warehouse. Find it on the roll of film and scan it until we got a decent picture. ... We've gone from 30 minutes to one second.'

Phase II will expand the application to other DMV work centers. It also will focus on converting medical files, audits and investigation reports to electronic images.

In Phase III, DMV will decentralize scanning of all title work and driver's license applications.

Phase II and III are set to be implemented by 2008, officials said.
DMV also is planning enhancements, including the addition of e-forms, letting Virginians fill out forms online rather than waiting in long lines at local DMV offices.

The new system is changing the way DMV operates, saving time when employees and residents access and submit documents.

'You just have to see this new system to believe it, Gonyo said. 'It's like a brand new toy.'

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