Virginians get vital records at the DMV
- By Derek Major
- Jan 21, 2016
Waiting in line at the department of motor vehicles can be frustrating. Even worse is finally getting to the counter just to find out you’re missing the documents you need -- a situation in which far too many Virginians were finding themselves.
“A lot of customers were coming in and were being turned away because they didn’t have their birth certificate with them,” said David Burhop, Virginia DMV’s deputy commissioner and CIO. “That was happening to the tune of 4,800 people per month, so we thought, ‘What if we could go ahead and cut down on that and offer citizens access to their birth certificate right at the counter?’”
Prior to March 2014, birth certificates were issued only by the Vital Records Office in Richmond. People who needed a birth certificate had to apply either in person or by mail -- or else work through a third-party vendor that charged processing fees to take a request online.
Once legislative approval was granted for DMV to issue the vital records, the Department of Health and the DMV developed a distributed services platform that includes a secure web service. The platform enables a critical, real-time data exchange between DMV’s customer service application (mySelect) and the Health Department’s vital records application (Virginia Vital Events Screening and Tracking System).
“We utilized XML integration as well as Oracle for the platform,” Burhop said. “The XML integration is the web services application that actually resides at the Department of Health, so we worked closely with their staff,” he said. The program runs through the Health Department’s secure network and is managed by IT staff at the Virginia Information Technologies Agency.
The platform has several security features to protect citizen’s information. Every time a person wants to buy a birth certificate, a call to the web services application is made for the data. When the data is returned for printing, a manager from the Vital Records Office authorizes that transaction before it can print -- a step, according to Burhop, that prevents any unauthorized purchases.
“We’ve also built in a training indicator,” Burhop said, to ensure DMV staff members have completed a two-day training course covering the issuance of birth certificates. “If that indicator is not associated with their user ID, they do not have access to the database.”
Since its inception, 216,000 certificates have been processed. The DMV charges $2 for processing in addition to the $12 fee assessed from Vital Records. This represented more than $250,000 in new revenue to the commonwealth in the first year, in addition to saving citizens travel expenses or processing and shipping fees that are charged when the birth certificate is obtained through a vendor.
The birth certificate application project was so successful that the program was expanded to allow citizens to also purchase certified copies of Virginia marriage, divorce and death records at all full-service DMV locations.
Since the program was expanded, copies of 1,145 death certificates, 207 divorce and 1,014 marriages licenses have been processed, according to Burhop.
“All in all, it’s been a very successful program,” he said.
Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.