Audit: RMV issued 1,900 driver's licenses in deceased people's names

BOSTON — An audit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles has found that more than 1,900 driver's licenses have been issued to individuals after their deaths.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump released the report Thursday which found the RMV issued 1,905 driver's licenses in the names of deceased people. As of January 2018, 97 percent of the licenses were still listed as active.

Bump's office has called on the RMV to take actions to further prevent potential fraud. The audit says the RMV's failure to properly use databases, such as the Social Security Administration's Death Master File, to identify and deactivate licenses.

"The failure to prevent individuals from obtaining identification under the names of deceased people creates a significant public safety risk to the Commonwealth. 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." - Suzanne Bump

The audit also found the RMV had processed over 10,000 requests for disability parking placards for dead individuals. Bump's office has recommended the RMV require individuals to reapply every five years, rather than the current practice of the agency automatically renewing these placards.

The RMV denies the audit's findings and sent Boston 25 News the following information:

"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. This audit is outdated, as it was conducted before the implementation of an entirely new software system which has improved management and tracking capabilities."

– RMV spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard

Per the RMV, the Auditor’s report made three findings, all of which are significantly flawed:

    • The report recommends that the RMV uses the SSA Death Master File. The RMV already uses this file. Additionally, the RMV also uses MA DPH records to identify deceased persons.
    • The report recommends requiring individuals with permanent medical conditions reapply for placards every 5 years. The RMV does not do this because it would be a burden for someone with a permanent disability to have to reapply. However, all names are run through the SSA Death Master file, so RMV would be aware if someone with a permanent card died.
    • The report recommends improving their database, which the RMV has under the new ATLAS system.
    • The Auditor again recommends using the SSA Death Master File, which the RMV already uses.
    • Of the 1,905 names provided by the Auditor, the RMV has confirmed that all 1,905 are alive, through confirming with the ATLAS system, which utilizes the SSA Death Master File.
    • While the old RMV ALARS system did mark individuals as deceased to stop further transactions, the new ATLAS system has improved tracking capabilities.
    • The RMV is not missing any revenue. 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 new ATLAS system will include an electronic inventory management system which will help with tracking paper documentation.

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