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Tech Entrepreneur Takes Over California DMV

The California Department of Motor Vehicles office in the Arleta neighborhood...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: The California Department of Motor Vehicles office in the Arleta neighborhood of Los Angeles is seen Tuesday, April 9, 2019.

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California's Department of Motor Vehicles has a reputation, and it's not a good one, unless you're a fan of long lines and balky software. Governor Gavin Newsom has made modernizing and improving the DMV experience a priority. He appointed tech entrepreneur Steve Gordon to head the agency, with the expectation that things will change, in a good way.

Aired: September 3, 2019 | Transcript

In the preface to Governor Gavin Newsom's 2013 book, "Citizenville," he writes that the state's Department of Motor Vehicles is on the cutting edge, of 1973.

Newsom, who believes Californians "are outraged by their experience at DMV," has made fixing it a priority. In July he named Steve Gordon, a tech entrepreneur, to move the agency closer to the current century.

Gordon, 59, is a California native who worked for a time for the San Diego County auditor and eventually became a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

Gordon will have more challenges than long lines and old computers. The agency expects as many as 28 million applicants for the new driver license Real ID, which people who don't have passports, military ID or other federally accepted identification will need for airline travel by late 2020. The 2018 version of the DMV's Motor Voter program was a symphony of problems resulting in tens of thousands of duplicate voter registrations, over 7,000 of them in San Diego County. And a state audit this year found "significant problems" with staffing levels and management practices.

The state increased the DMV's budget last year and added another $242 million to address the Real ID rush. The question is, will that be enough?

Gordon joined Midday Edition Tuesday to talk about the future of the DMV.

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