Saturday, August 26, 2006

The BMV and Secretary of State

An Indiana legislator recently proposed the idea of placing the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) under the authority of the Secretary of State's office. The idea has some merit. The BMV was under the Secretary of State until 1953.

The BMV's performance has left many Hoosiers dissatisfied and irritated. The BMV is currently under the authority of the Governor. Some will argue that those dissatisfied with BMV performance can show their displeasure by casting a vote for someone other than the incumbent.

That's true, but it is a stronger argument that because the Governor oversees so much, because BMV performance is just one small aspect of a very large job, the Governor is really very unlikely to be held accountable for BMV performance.

Secretary of State is accountable for just three items to-date: elections, busines services, and securities. Adding a fourth area of oversight should not overwhelm a competent manager. Returning the BMV to the Secretary of State would make that office more visible, which is a good thing. Citizens should be more aware of what the Secretary of State manages.

Most importantly, returning the BMV to Secretary of State oversight would result in a greater opportunity for accountability for its performance. This makes it worth doing.

Hoosiers deserve government that is accountable. Elect me, Mike Kole, as Indiana Secretary of State. I will be accountable.


At 6:36 PM, Blogger kent neeb said...

You already have my vote!

The BMV seems to have been in a state of flux for quite some least that is the public perception in my little circle of life. In a nutshell, how would you make the BMV a better entity for Indiana?

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Mike Kole said...

The BMV has to remember who it serves, and that nobody is obtaining their services because they want to. So, I would work to change the culture among BMV employees.

My own experience as an employee of the Hamilton County Surveyor's Office was as a Permit Inspector. I issued permits to applicants, from residents to construction or engineering firms. My target turnaround time was 48 hours. More often than not, I met the target. It floored many of the applicants, who were used to 30 day turnaround. I took a great deal of pride in beating expectations. I've never met anyone who didn't.

I am very big on incentives as motivation for employees. I like setting targets for turnaround time, and then rewarding those who consistently beat the target.

If the BMV did this and followed through, they wouldn't have the reputation they have now.

At 6:35 AM, Blogger greg alexander said...

Hello - Somewhat related to the BMV, what is your viewpoint on the new voter ID law?

Courts in two states (Georgia and Missouri) have now ruled that laws very similar to our own are unconstitutional. Given the strong safeguards for voting rights in the Indiana constitution, it seems clear that our own law is unconstitutional as well even though the courts have not gotten around to telling us so.

What do you think the role of the secretary of state should be while there is such an onerous unconstitutional law "on the books"?

At 5:30 AM, Blogger Mike Kole said...

We don't know that it is unconstitutional in our state yet. That judgment will come, you guessed it, after the election.

Taxpayer dollars should not have been funnelled into promoting Voter ID. $1.2 million was blown on this prior to the primary. It will be interesting to see the final tally when the election season is over.

There is actually no real role for the SOS on the issue anyhow. The SOS is a functionary who cannot legislate, and really scarcely executes election law. The counties execute the elections. The County Clerk has huge say on how their elections are conducted. The Clerk determines what kind of machines are purchased, who the vendor will be, etc. If the counties choose not to vigorously call for display of ID, the SOS would be hard pressed to do anything about it. He could bluster and stomp his feet, but the Elections Division is the final arbiter. The SOS is the nominal chief, but only supplies a tie-breaking vote if necessary. Feel like you've been run around with that answer? Welcome to state government!

My opinion is that the current SOS went out of his way to promote this issue as a partisan matter. I would not have taken this approach. As I stated, it's more important to get people to the poll. Then you can begin to think about checking the ID.


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