BMV commissioner, lawmakers react to latest audit findings

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INDIANAPOLIS (May 11, 2015) - A new 40-page report from an outside accounting firm shows specifically how the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles overcharges come drivers, while undercharging others. The audit even found more potential problems with improperly charged fees.

"Fee and fund names did not always match the names in the code, requiring judgment and creating a risk of error,” said auditors in the report released by BKD CPA’s & advisors.

The report finds there is overly complex legislative authority, and the report also found a lack of oversight for compliance with the laws, and that the information system is not good enough to support the current business processes.

They're issues the BMV has been working to fix, according to officials, who say they will work with lawmakers to simplify codes for fees and taxes.

“What we’re able to take from it is we’re able to put together based on what we found a strategy based on legislative, operational and systems adjustments and that is something we’re going to pursue,” said spokesman Josh Gillespie.

Still, at the Statehouse, Democrats have called for big changes to address some of the issues the BMV has faced.

“Hoosiers should know the BMV is taking this entire assessment extremely seriously,” said Gillespie. “And we are taking every step possible to restore the trust with Hoosier motorists from here on out.”

State Rep. Dan Forestal, D-Indianapolis, issued the following statement today after the assessment was released:

“While it’s no secret that there are many problems with this particular agency, it’s still astonishing to see so much documented evidence that proves the BMV is a mess.

“It’s all there. The agency charges too many fees that are too hard to track, and the BMV hierarchy has been uninterested in overseeing too many of its functions.

“It’s a shame that this report couldn’t have been issued a few weeks ago, so the Indiana General Assembly could have shown a more pro-active approach toward BMV reform rather than the weak package advocated by the governor and his Republican supermajorities. Those efforts now are shown for being as completely inadequate as many predicted while they were being debated during session.

“So where do we go from here?

“Obviously, we need to do more with this report than simply admire its cover and its heft. We need to implement everything included in it, especially the reforms that address the bureaucratic inadequacies that have been too typical the past several years.

“Here are two places to start:

“First of all, the BMV cannot be trusted to police itself. Page 8 of the report makes it too clear that the BMV central office has avoided independent auditing for a number of years. We need to begin requiring those audits as soon as humanly possible.

“Second, we need to sit down and completely review the labyrinthine fee structure that exists at the BMV. That means deciding what fees are no longer needed, and more importantly, the processes used to enact these fees. I believe this authority should rest with the Indiana General Assembly, not a BMV Commission that comes off as entirely unable to perform its functions. We have a nice big interim before the start of the 2016 session. It seems like this report certainly gives us something to occupy our time.

“One more thing. From the start, I have marveled at the expertise and professionalism of the men and women who work at the state’s license branches. This report only confirms their quality, particularly in the face of the mountains and mountains of bureaucratic boondoggle they face from  their leaders in Indianapolis.

“For their sake, as well as the sake of the taxpayers of Indiana, the time has come for the foxes to stop guarding the henhouse.”

BMV commissioner Kent Abernathy also issued a statement Monday:

“Within my first 90 days as BMV commissioner I have spoken with legislators and the Governor’s office as well as surveyed the agency’s landscape. Necessary internal improvements have begun, which include the hiring of a Chief of Staff, adding a new Chief Information Officer and the formation of a Central Office Internal Audit Team. Now, with the assessment complete, we have a benchmark of where we are and how we will move forward. It’s time to proactively change the way we do business and make the Indiana BMV the most efficient and trustworthy motor vehicle agency in the country.

“The assessment provides areas of focus helping us put together an aggressive and transformational agenda focusing on legislative, operations and systems adjustments.”