It's Your Money: NY comptroller approves deal for new driver's licenses

Posted at: 01/31/2013 10:46 AM
Updated at: 01/31/2013 5:45 PM
By: Ray Levato

The state is coming up with new driver's licenses, but instead of awarding the contract to the lowest bidder, it gave it to the highest bidder and the deal means taxpayers are on the hook for an extra $38 million tax dollars.

Not only that, but your picture is in black and white. So why is the comptroller spending $38 million more of your tax money to replace the current color photo on your license? That's the question we wanted to ask the New York State Comptroller DiNapoli. His office says he was not available, but they say he just approved the contract, that it was really a DMV decision.

To people News10NBC spoke with, it doesn't make any sense at all.

Deborah Burse said, “That is absolutely nuts, when we're so far behind now with money. Now you're going to find a way to take $38 million away from the rest of the taxpayers?”

Her friend at the D.M.V office in Irondequoit said that money could be better spent for education, or to help veterans.

Deborah Rittenhouse said, “You know, those who fight for us and don't get anything ever. But a thank you? A thank you isn't enough anymore. There's a lot of veterans who are out of work and homeless. Take that money and do something with it.”

Monroe County operates the local DMV offices for the state and News10NBC asked Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo about this Thursday. She says it sounds crazy.

Cheryl Dinolfo, Monroe County Clerk, said, “A license is a document that people use to help prove their identity in a number of circumstances, whether you're going to the bank or whether you're trying to get on an airplane. Imagine going to the Rochester airport and showing one of the guards there your license that doesn't have a color photograph of you.”

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “The clerk's office processes DMV transactions like licenses and registrations. Do you have any leverage at all?”

Dinolfo said, “Well, that's a great question. As I indicated, we weren't consulted. We do act as an agent for the state Department of Motor Vehicles. But interestingly, no one asked us what do you think about this idea? I think if we were asked our opinion would definitely be let's have colored licenses.”

Back at the D.M.V. office...

Burse said, “But I also have a Florida license. Can I show it to you? I will show you how you can get something that is tamper-proof, and they make it for you that day.”

Florida apparently has found a better way. It has two pictures on her license.

Jeff Piersall said, “If it's not a superior product with superior security that's going to help us out, then there's no reason to send it out of state.”

The company selected to make the new licenses is not just out of state, but out of the country. News10NBC learned that it is owned by a Canadian company. News10NBC hasn't heard back yet for the DMV in Albany.

Comptroller Dinapoli says the criteria for approving this contract included not just the price, but past experience in this type of security identification.
And Canadian Bank Note is supposed to be a leader in this area. It prints Canadian money and high security documents.