California DMV Wins Dishonor of California Golden Fleece® Award for Its Long Lines, Criminal Fraud, and Mishandling of Core Responsibilities: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
January 29, 2019

California DMV Wins Dishonor of California Golden Fleece® Award for Its Long Lines, Criminal Fraud, and Mishandling of Core Responsibilities

OAKLAND, CA — The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)—a poster child for bureaucratic incompetence—has won the Independent Institute’s seventh California Golden Fleece® Award, given to California state or local agencies or government projects that swindle taxpayers or break the public trust.

Recent events have taken DMV incompetency to a new level. During the past year, long lines reflected a dramatic increase in wait times for California residents, while state lawmakers and their staff have access to a secret DMV office near the Capitol that does not require queuing. News stories about employees sleeping on the job and selling fraudulent driver’s licenses highlight a shocking lack of oversight and accountability. The mishandling of voter registrations, disability parking placards, and Real IDs underscore a culture of negligence at the DMV.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced the creation of a “DMV Reinvention Strike Team” to offer recommendations for long-term reform of the beleaguered state agency. Hopefully, its recommendations will include the fundamental structural and operational reforms presented in this California Golden Fleece® Award.

“California’s DMV needs new leadership, but that’s only the start,” said Lawrence J. McQuillan, director of the Independent Institute’s California Golden Fleece® Awards. “The DMV should also partner with more third-party providers, allow all routine paperwork to be filed online, accept credit cards at branch offices, and seamlessly integrate new technology into its operations. Over the long term, the DMV should be replaced by cutting-edge private vendors.”

The report outlines that other states have implemented similar changes to the benefit of customers, including reducing dependence on the DMV for services, contracting out management of branch offices, and looking to the private sector for technological assistance. Each recommendation in the report goes beyond the typical government “solution” of throwing more money at the problem while hoping it goes away. Californians deserve a well-functioning DMV, and targeted reforms are needed.


The Independent Institute is a non-profit, research, and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit For media inquiries, contact Communications Manager Rob Ade: [email protected]; (510) 632-1366, ext. 114.

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