Audit finds Massachusetts RMV issued 1,900 driver’s licenses in dead people’s names

BOSTON (WHDH) - State Auditor Suzanne bump is blasting the oversight process at the Registry of Motor Vehicles after an audit found that the agency issued 1,905 driver’s licenses to state residents after they had died — 97 percent of which were still active — stressing that addressing the issue must be its “top priority.”

“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.”

According to the audit, which was announced by Bump’s office Thursday morning, 97 percent of the incorrectly issued licenses were still listed as active as of January 2018. Bump said the audit blames the RMV’s failure to properly use databases, such as the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, to identify and deactivate licenses of dead people and to ensure new licenses are not issued in the name of a dead person.

In addition to fixing the issue with licenses being issued in dead peoples’ names, Bump is also calling on the agency to “improve its oversight of disability parking placards” after the audit found that the RMV had processed more than 10,000 requests for disability parking placards from state residents who were already dead.

“The audit notes that failure to address these problems could result in lost parking meter revenue and deprive people with disabilities of needed parking,” the statement read. “A 2016 report from the Massachusetts Inspector General’s Office found significant abuse of handicap placards in the Commonwealth.”

Click here to view the audit. 

But hours after it was announced, the audit was shot down by the RMV, which claimed it was “outdated.”

“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 spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard said in a statement. “This audit is outdated, as it was conducted before the implementation of an entirely new software system which has improved management and tracking capabilities.”

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