The DMV started off 2005 with a big change. The team’s manager for the previous 5 years left the position for dustier pastures. The former manager will continue to work with DMV in another role, but a new manager took the lead. Coming into the position in January exposed the new manager to a major challenge to get the pre-registration process ready to go live in mid-February. One of the first challenges of the year came from technical issues with the online registration and database tool. The QA phase identified a number of issues that needed attention for smooth handling of applications. The process hit some bumps in weak coordination between the tech team and DMV, but everyone worked hard and got the process running in time.
Some changes affected the disabled driving policy in 2005. First, the term handicapped changed to disabled, the more accepted term. Pre-registration also became mandatory for playa driving permits to cut down on the work and hassle of handling applications on playa, and to improve participant experience regarding advanced notice.
A mistake early in the year was lack of communication between the DMV’s leadership and its volunteers. The difficulty of racing to make so much happen on time compounded by the late start meant that some priorities fell by the wayside, and the DMV leadership and manager made the mistake of letting good communication with DMV volunteers become one of the casualties. The leadership and manager heard the discontent from the crew and made adjustments to better meet the needs, and this experience taught the lesson to avoid the same mistake in the future.
On playa, 2005 was an overall success. DMV’s new office helped keep equipment clean and operational during the event week. Improved tech support on playa also contributed to smooth DMV operations. The team worked with the Gate managers planning for the playa to improve the process of mutant vehicles entering the city (and keeping unwanted vehicles out). The result was a smoother process that was easier on everyone. Processing the hundreds of mutant vehicle licenses, disabled licenses, and other driving permits kept the team busy, and some adjustments in staffing and processes will improve things for 2006. Overall the DMV hotties came though. Even with challenges due to changes in the year, the team really made the DMV rise to a new level of service.
A couple of challenges from 2005 point the way toward some changes for 2006. The task of processing hundreds of applications submitted near the deadline of July 15 has proved overwhelming, and DMV hopes to move the deadline up a few weeks. The other issue was understanding of licensing criteria by mutant vehicle owners and the Black Rock City community. A rewrite of the criteria and policy will better convey the message while keeping its content about the same.
Submitted by Wally Bomgaars