Monday, August 24, 2009

DPS spending millions on TDEX database while driver license lines lengthen

I'd mentioned over the weekend the Public Safety Commission's vote on Friday to revamp the Driver Responsibility surcharge to create amnesty and incentive programs. But a couple of other interesting items came up at the meeting that deserve Grits readers' attention.

Driver License Delays
For starters, apparently DPS' recent driver license reengineering project has spawned delays in processing times for getting a driver license by 39-61% at DL offices where it's been implemented. Renewals take 59% longer under the new approach, getting an original DL takes 39% longer, and getting a commercial license takes 122% more time compared to before the reengineering project. Those are awfully high numbers.

Exacerbating the problem, the Lege required DPS administer driving tests for everyone aged 18 and under this session, the Commission was told, but that will require 74 new examiners statewide at a cost of $2.9 million, and that money was not appropriated in the state budget. DPS will try to shift around money from other sources, but that shortage will exacerbate delays already occurring at licensing facilities.

Terminating Prevaricators
In other news, the new Executive Director Col. Steve McCraw announced he's preparing a new policy to terminate troopers for "prevarication" who lie on the job. He said once a trooper has been shown to be a liar, they'd be impeached in court if ever called to testify and it makes no sense to keep them on the team. Several Texas police departments have similar rules for their officers.

$33 million for TDEX
McCraw also used the commission meeting to promote spending $4.1 million in asset forfeiture funds on the TDEX databae - Texas' version of a Total Information Awareness intelligence system that's been one of the Governor's principle homeland security hobby horses. The $4.1 million makes up for a program shortfall experienced in the last biennium, said McCraw, who added that the Lege put up $12 million for the next biennium and the Governor's Criminal Justice Division would spend another $17 million in grants on the project for a total of $33 million over the next two years.

McCraw called TDEX a "great investment for our department," but Commissioner Carin Barth pointed out that spending money on TDEX meant the asset forfeiture money couldn't go for other priorities like Tasers and body armor. To this writer, $33 million seems like a lot of scratch for a database that's been highly controversial but which, to my knowledge, has never actually contributed to solving a criminal case.

By contrast, I'll bet $33 million would go a long way toward reducing delays at DPS' drivers license offices.


Anonymous said...

Are all of our dl pics and prints in the tdex? We're all suspects now.

This and Perry/Dewhurst insistence on the useless real id program are ridiculous wastes of resources.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the policy to terminate liars includes Texas Rangers. If so the Ranger who lied in the so called "Mineola Swingers" case should be looking for a new job soon.

Anonymous said...

TDEX will also include information from CARE (MHMR database) so that when you go to get your DL or get pulled over, they will know if you have a mental health history. CARE maintains your history for your entire life, so, potentially, even childhood issues will come back to haunt you when you are pulled over for speeding. As far as I know, there is not any civil rights groups out there that knows this.

strawberry6977 said...

I did notice my Renewal took an extra long time and then knew once it came in why...they had re-designed the DL (more security measures, seems more so than a $20 bill...haha). I'm glad I still had my other DL or else I would've been flaming mad waiting several months like I did for my new DL.

strawberry6977 said...

By the way, Anonymous 11:34 -
Where did you get that info that TDEX will include info from CARE (MHMR Database)? That would be an invasion of HIPAA laws I would think. I do know TDCJ is pushing to get CARE implemented, but at least it's just the Medical Dept (more secure) than any street cop pulling you over. Wow.

editor said...

Strawberry 6977, Right now the push is to integrate the MHMR data into the TLETS system which is the "older version" of TDEX, but you can read p. 32:

Or, see here:

or, here:

Here's a site of how the various databases will be used in the courts:

It would seem like a HIPPAA violation to me as well, but when did the law get in the way of The Law?

editor said...

Even scarier, read:

Beat The Chip said...

What really burns me here is that most of the precedent for the direction for most of this-the databases, AG opinion, uses of biometrics and federal cooperation over things like RFID in licenses- established in 2007. I think Texans care, but the question is, do they care enough?

FairPlay said...

I much believe in the policy of getting rid of any peace officer who lies with regard to any job-related matter. One of best chiefs I ever worked for referred to the policy as "If you lie you die." There were no exceptions to the rule. His philosophy was that if you lied about the little things you would lie about the big things. It was definately the most professional department I worked for once the liars started being weeded out.

Anonymous said...

would it be possible to get a link to your statistics? I know this is an old article so I apologize for any inconvenience

Gritsforbreakfast said...

These were actually stats given out by witnesses at the PSC meeting, I don't have a document to cite to. DPS does keep audio recordings you could get under open records.