Baker: RMV failed to do part of its job

Priority now is on the ‘back of the house’

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack took responsibility on Tuesday for the failure of the Registry of Motor Vehicles to process thousands of out-of-state violations by Massachusetts drivers, but the governor indicated Pollack still has his confidence and the problem will quickly be addressed.

Baker and Pollack disclosed on Monday that the RMV had received thousands of notices regarding violations by Massachusetts drivers in other states, stuffed the notices in a room in Quincy, and forgot about the paperwork for more than a year.

The documents only came to light after it was discovered that Connecticut had sent a notice to the RMV that a truck driver from West Springfield had been arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol on May 11, which should have triggered the suspension of his commercial driver’s license. That truck driver late last month allegedly drove his truck into a group of motorcyclists in New Hampshire, killing seven.

“In this particular case, the Registry failed to do its job, failed to do this particular part of its job. And we all own that,” Baker told reporters after a ceremonial ground-breaking for South Coast Rail in Freetown.

As reporters peppered the two government officials about the RMV situation, they suggested their biggest oversight was a preoccupation with improving customer service at the RMV. Baker said his administration had focused its attention on what he called “the front of the house” at the RMV, meaning the customer-facing aspects of the agency. He said major progress has been made on that front, but now the “back of the house” needs to be addressed, he said.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

“I understand we have a lot of work to rebuild confidence,” Pollack said. “There’s clearly process issues we need to address and clearly there are culture issues we need to address. The Registry is very much a service agency. We’ve been focusing on that. But it is also a safety agency and clearly we have to focus on that more.”

In the immediate aftermath of the RMV breakdown, former registrar Evin Deveney stepped down from her post last Tuesday and was replaced on an acting basis by Jamey Tesler.