Online DMV services revving their engines

The American public's appetite for e-government has driven state motor vehicle

agencies across the country to offer even more online services than they

did a year ago.

In a follow-up study to its December 1999 report, Accenture, a management

and technology consulting firm, found that nearly four times more agencies

are adopting the Internet as a way to channel customers to their services.

"The motor vehicle agencies are heeding the call of citizens, and that

call is that they want e-government as a priority," said Rob Berton, an

Accenture partner. "Reality is moving closer to rhetoric."

The agencies, which affect a broad spectrum of the population, are offering

more "choice, convenience and control," he said. They are moving away from

providing only information on their Web sites to offering online transactions,

such as registration or driver's license renewals, license plate renewals,

citation payments or inquiries.

In 1999, the study reported that 70 percent of states offered just general

information or downloadable forms. In 2000, that number decreased to 40

percent. Concurrently, states offering only one online service increased

from 25 percent to 59 percent, and states offering at least two online

services rose from 8 percent to 29 percent.

Online registration renewal is the most popular transaction, with more

than 40 percent of agencies offering it, up from 18 percent in 1999. Massachusetts

and Virginia offer the most services — seven each.

Released May 21, the study was conducted in January and does not include

recent advancements. For example, Delaware unveiled its Division of Motor

Vehicles Web site in mid-April.

Berton said people should expect to see further substantial progress.

Two such areas may include traffic citation payments, offered only by Massachusetts,

and driver's license renewals, available in five states — Florida, Louisiana,

Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Vision testing is one barrier to renewing licenses, but he said states

could make those tests more accessible by offering them at multiple sites,

such as doctors' offices or vision centers. Currently, New Mexico is conducting

a pilot project of online vision tests, and more states may follow.

As more people get comfortable navigating through one-stop government portals,

and motor vehicle agencies become more proactive, Berton said, online services

will increase even more.

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