Capitol Alert

Embattled California DMV gets its third director in just 32 days

DMV audit would redirect resources from cutting wait times, director says

In a budget hearing on Tuesday, August 7, DMV Director Jean Shiomoto expressed opposition to a potential audit of the department, calling the proposal a “strain” on resources that would detract focus from reducing wait times.
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In a budget hearing on Tuesday, August 7, DMV Director Jean Shiomoto expressed opposition to a potential audit of the department, calling the proposal a “strain” on resources that would detract focus from reducing wait times.

The agency struggling to register licenses is also struggling to find a leader.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has gone through two directors in just over a month. The latest leadership shake-up came on Jan. 30, when acting director Kathleen Webb replaced acting director Bill Davidson, who had replaced permanent director Jean Shiomoto on Dec. 31, 2018.

Webb comes to the DMV by way of the California Government Operations Agency. Before that, she worked as the chief risk and compliance officer for CalPERS.

She takes the helm at a difficult time for the department. Though the DMV has been successful in substantially reducing wait times, it was recently hit with 150,000 delayed driver licenses. The department has also struggled to implement the state’s new Motor Voter program, which automatically registers people to vote at DMV offices.

The Department of Finance is expected next month to release its finding from an audit it is conducting to examine long DMV wait times and aging technology.

Since taking office, Gov. Gavin Newsom has made the DMV a priority. He launched a strike team to fix what he called a “chronically mismanaged” department. In his State of the State Address, he pushed for “re-imagining the DMV.”

But he has yet to name a permanent director.

His office said Newsom is waiting on the strike team to offer suggestions for long-term leadership. He directed his administration in January to produce an “accelerated Review of Early Findings” within 30 days of the audit’s March release.

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.
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