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Governor's Column: Better Government: Driver Licensing


Location: Pierre, SD

Three years ago, I launched the Better Government Initiative to make government more open and accessible. I believe government should be as convenient and efficient as possible. We have put more services online, made agencies more transparent and repealed thousands of words of unnecessary statutes and rules.

These may not be my most glamorous proposals, but they have made state government more efficient and accessible.

Let me share a concrete example.

In the summer of 2012, we had a problem at some of our driver licensing stations. Many citizens were experiencing wait times of more than two hours. Some had to wait more than three hours.

That's unacceptable, and in July of 2012 I announced a comprehensive plan to make the driver licensing system more efficient and convenient. We extended our hours of operation, instituted aggressive hiring and training programs, and developed a new scheduling system so citizens could call ahead or use the internet to reserve an appointment time. We installed self-service kiosks at a number of exam stations. We also created a driver licensing superstation in Sioux Falls to handle substantially higher volumes. Last year, I worked with legislators to pass legislation authorizing online driver license renewals.

The steps we have taken have made a real difference. Before we made these changes, only one customer out of 10 was served within 10 minutes. By last summer, four out of 10 customers were served within 10 minutes, and in the last few months, we have served eight out of 10 customers within 10 minutes of walking in the door.

In government, as in business, it's the little things that matter. Thanks to the hardworking employees at the exam stations and the changes we made, South Dakotans are being better served and we're on our way to building a better state government.

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