It's not exactly breaking news, nor the least bit surprising, that the California Department of Motor Vehicles could use some modernization and streamlining. Anyone who has ever stood in line after line at the DMV to get your number, take your test, get your photo taken and pay your fee can attest that the agency lacks efficiency.
But a recent public records request from Patch provided another window into the department's outdated infrastructure. When Toyota announced last month that it was , we reached out to the DMV to see how many Priuses are registered in Marin County.
That seemingly simple single piece of data proved elusive. An attorney for the agency informed Patch that processing such a request was no simple task, as it involved creating a "file pass" that extracted the data from the agency's current vehicle registration database of approximately 38 million records.
In order to fulfill Patch's request, DMV officials said the agency had to charge Patch $135 per hour for 10 hours ($1,350) to create the extraction program, plus $880 per hour for 10 hours ($8,800) to run the program, plus $.10 for each Prius in Marin identified in the extraction (estimated by Patch at $2,000). Patch would also need to produce vehicle identification numbers (VIN) for each type of Prius in advance of the search.
That's approximately $12,150 for a single piece of data - that is, the number of Toyota Priuses registered in Marin County. We declined to pay the fee.
But a DMV spokesman says help is on the way, as the agency is in the midst of a multi-year modernization project of its information technology systems. It is expected to complete that process in 2013.
"DMV’s Information Technology Modernization (ITM) project will make it easier for DMV to program these types of requests, and will significantly reduce the cost associated with searches such as the number of Priuses registered in a specific county," DMV spokesman Artemio Armenta said in an email.