Low expectations plague R.I. Motor Vehicles Division

Low expectations plague R.I. Motor Vehicles Division


Walt Buteau, a Target 12 Investigator, reported last week that the R.I. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has a written policy which allows the cashiers who handle transactions to be off up to $25.00 every day in their registers. The policy initially was just fine with the department administrator. He told the reporter that the cashiers throughout the state handle about 20,000 transactions a month so the discrepancy is dandy.
It seems that it would take a union negotiation to change the policy of this daily deviation. Subsequently, he is now looking into the issue. Reporter Buteau looked at some daily sheets for the months of July and August. At the DMV’s main office in Cranston, he found that cashiers overcharged customers and 12 undercharged customers by more than $25.
In Woonsocket, the DMV had $216.60 in overages and $303.39 in shortages for August. The situation reminded me of the potential problems that the DMV has had.
Years ago, the DMV boss allowed his daughter to register a car without charging her a fee. This overage/shortage scenario would allow for the same game to be played whereby “favorites” could get breaks at the expense of the grunts that get overcharged. The practice should cease immediately.
Massachusetts DMV does not allow for discrepancies, despite having a heavier caseload. Those handling cash are personally responsible for shortages. The drawers must balance out to zero each day.
Why are the expectations any different for state employees versus those in private employ? Bank tellers wouldn’t last too long if they didn’t balance the drawer. Virtually every business requires those who process money to account to the penny. Not one business person I canvassed allowed for a margin of error in their retail stores.
Federal employees who work for the postal office as clerks have a nonstop volume of work every day. They get no such “bye” for unbalanced   receipts or stamp count. They are just as busy if not more so than clerks at the DMV.
Rhode Island’s DMV administrator seemed to countenance the sloppy work by pointing to Connecticut, which also allows discrepancies. Shouldn’t this state, however, strive for excellence as opposed to mediocrity? The “anything goes” mentality is precisely why the state has a business black eye.
One thing is for sure — Governor Lincoln Chafee should not be allowing the workload to increase by granting driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. There are many reasons why he should not, not the least of which is the apparent inability to demand accuracy with receipt of cash.
It’s insulting to the workers at the DMV to lower expectations. I, for one, think that they have one of the hardest jobs in government, particularly given all the grief and attitude they get from the public.
Being on the front line is no piece of cake. Let’s not add insult to injury by treating them like they are math-deficient. I am certain that given the true professionals that they are, they will rise to the occasion and don’t need to be coddled. Count on the fact that they can COUNT!


  1. It is an insult to the workers at the DMV to treat them any less than decent, honest people. I have never had a problem with the people at the DMV. They have always acted in a professional manner. It would be disrespectful to treat them less. I put this on the Governor’s shoulders. If he cannot show respect for the employees of this state then it is a wise decision that he leaves his office after one term.