BOSTON (CBS) — The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles is denying a state auditor’s report that says the agency issued 1,905 driver’s licenses to people after they died.
While State Auditor Suzanne Bump is calling on the agency to take steps to stop issuing potentially fraudulent forms of identification, the RMV says Bump’s audit is “significantly flawed.”
And, according to the RMV, all 1,905 people mentioned in the report are alive, after it confirmed the names through its system.
“The Registry of Motor Vehicles rejects the findings in the Auditor’s report, especially the false claim that the RMV is issuing licenses to 1900 deceased individuals who the RMV has verified are alive,” RMV spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard said in a statement.
Goddard called the audit “outdated, as it was conducted before the implementation of an entirely new software system which has improved management and tracking capabilities.”
According to the state audit released Thursday, a whopping 97 percent of licenses issued to people after they died were still active as of January 2018.
The RMV failed to properly use databases, such as the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, to identify and deactivate licenses of dead individuals, the audit states. The RMV also failed to ensure new licenses are not issued in the name of a dead person.
“The failure to prevent individuals from obtaining identification under the names of deceased people creates a significant public safety risk to the Commonwealth,” Bump said in a statement. “Fixing this problem must be a top priority for the RMV. Recent upgrades to the computer systems at the RMV provide it with more tools; now the agency must use them in conjunction with the data sources at its disposal to address this problem.”
The RMV says it already uses the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, and it also uses state Department of Public Health records to identify dead people.
Bump wants the RMV to also improve its oversight of disability parking placards. The audit found that the agency processed over 10,000 requests for disability parking placards from people who have died.
She encouraged the RMV to require individuals with a permanent handicap placard to reapply every five years, rather than the current practice of automatically renewing the placards. She also wants the RMV to improve its process for replacing placards, saying that the current process can be easily abused.
The RMV says it does not required people to reapply for a placard every five years because it would be a burden for someone with a permanent disability to have to reapply. According to the RMV, all names are run through the Death Master file, so the RMV would be aware if someone with a permanent card died.
Failure to address these problems could result in lost parking meter revenue and deprive people with disabilities of needed parking, the audit states.
A 2016 report from the Massachusetts Inspector General’s Office found significant abuse of handicap placards statewide.
This is latest audit to uncover the failure of state agencies to remove dead people from their program rolls.
A 2016 audit of the Massachusetts State Retirement Board found the agency made more than $687,000 in payments to dead pensioners.
A 2013 audit of the Department of Transitional Assistance found the agency paid over $2 million in benefits to dead people.
Bump said that the RMV’s process for documenting its revenue “needs significant improvement.”
According to the RMV, the agency is not missing any revenue. The agency’s new ATLAS system has improved tracking capabilities.
“The RMV believes this finding is based on the Auditor not being able to find a set of physical files, but there is no missing revenue,” the agency said, adding that the new ATLAS system will include an electronic inventory management system which will help with tracking paper documentation.
During the audit period, the RMV had approximately 733 employees and a budget of about $85.9 million in fiscal year 2016.