DMV Testifies on Driver’s License Controversies

Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Wayne Goodwin defended the DMV’s handling of two driver’s license controversies in his testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee Wednesday. Goodwin and Chief Deputy Commissioner Portia Manley told committee members the unusual process to select a driver’s license printing vendor was appropriate. Goodwin also addressed questions about a budget provision to extend the eight-year driver’s license renewal period to sixteen years.

Sixteen-Year Driver’s License Renewal Period

 The REAL ID Act of 2005 requires that state driver’s licenses cannot be valid longer than eight years. Goodwin said he did not realize this until after DMV made its legislative request in February 2023, but he was less than clear why legislators were not made aware of this. He said the original request was an attempt to reduce wait times at DMV offices. Goodwin did not directly address the portion of the provision that would allow unlimited online renewal of driver’s licenses, merely stating that a new photo is required every sixteen years.

Rep. Jeff McNeely (R-Iredell) listens to testimony during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing Wednesday, October 11, 2023. (Photo by David Cobb)

Rep. Jeff McNeely (R-Iredell) pressed the timeline of awareness and communication.

McNeely, chair of the Transportation Committee, said he did not receive any communication asking that the provision be removed. Members of the committee asked for email communications to track the chain of requests.

“Lack of communication to the chairs is the problem,” McNeely said. “More eyes could have realized what was happening and made sure we corrected this. In the future we need to broaden our net as we cast it.”

Driver’s License Issuance Contract

Goodwin testified that appropriate procedures were followed in selecting CBN Secure Technologies as a new vendor to produce North Carolina’s driver’s licenses.

Only a small number of companies produce credentials that meet federal, state, and American Associate of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) requirements. He explained that DMV chose to interview three of five companies that met its initial criteria. After site visits and presentations in Raleigh, DMV officials chose CBN based on their secure technologies.

Goodwin defended the process DMV used to select the company. Citing Session Law 2021-134 (HB650) that allows DMV to exempt five information technology projects from DIT oversight and requirements to increase the speed of technology modernization projects.

North Carolina General Statute 20-7(n)(4) requires that a driver’s license must contain a color photograph. Goodwin testified that CBN can print in color, but the company prefers black-and-white based on industry standards and security best practices. He said passports and “half” of U.S. state driver’s licenses are black-and-white.  Goodwin said DMV’s request to add the words “or monochromatic” was rebuffed by “DOT leadership.”

Rep. Allen Chesser (R-Nash) raised concerns about data security given the CBN Secure Technologies is a global company. He further urged caution and a full, unrushed vetting process because of the importance of security.

Goodwin reiterated that the process used for selecting CBN Secure Technologies was in accordance with state law and included representatives from multiple departments. “No one person made the decision,” he said. “The decision relied upon the 2021 law…[was] discussed at the meetings earlier this year, is also based on recommendations of subject matter experts, it tracked DOT procurement and RFP process, and followed the direction, approval, and blessing of then-Secretary Boyette and our legal team.”

More to Come

Committee members were not satisfied with Goodwin and Manley’s responses on either issue. They requested more documentation of the procurement process and of communications related to the legislative provision. Chairman Harry Warren said the Committee also hopes to have the Commissioner back to discuss customer service at driver’s license offices.