Poor supervision, lax security plague MVA, review says

March 11, 1992|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Staff Writer

A review of Motor Vehicle Administration procedures found the agency's internal security lax and chastised the MVA for not spelling out security policies to employees, state Transportation Secretary O. James Lighthizer said yesterday.

"We've got to do a better job of putting into writing the procedures for handling documents," Mr. Lighthizer said. "We've got too many people with too much access to information and not enough supervision. That's the most important thing we've learned."

Mr. Lighthizer declined to release copies of the report, which he ordered last week to assess the MVA's vulnerability to fraud.

The issue arose in the wake of publicity surrounding Dontay Carter, the Baltimore teen-ager who allegedly obtained a duplicate driver's license in the name of a 37-year-old man he is charged with abducting and killing.

Authorities allege that the 18-year-old gave $50 to a clerk at the MVA's Mondawmin office in exchange for the license. The clerk has since been suspended from her job but is reported to be cooperating with the investigation.

The MVA review was prepared by the Transportation Department's internal audit division, with help from state police, MVA officials and the state attorney general's office. Mr. Lighthizer received it Monday.

Releasing the full document, Mr. Lighthizer said, would be tantamount to advertising ways to defraud the MVA. "It would make the public well aware of schemes to exploit the system," he said.

Instead, officials yesterday distributed a one-page summary with scant details of the MVA's alleged shortcomings. But a source within the department described the full report as "very, very critical."

W. Marshall Rickert, the MVA's embattled administrator, described the review as "a helpful blueprint for us."

He is scheduled to present a plan for correcting the agency's shortcomings to Mr. Lighthizer on Monday.

"There have been no surprises so far. I don't read it as being critical," Mr. Rickert said.

" Rebecca Reid, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, said the review also recommended increased security in MVA offices and within its computer system, restructuring the MVA's administration and greater supervision over employees.

Last week, Mr. Lighthizer announced several security initiatives, including stationing police officers in MVA offices and a study of a $20 million computer system that could cross-reference photographs, signatures and fingerprints.

The MVA also temporarily stopped issuing photo identification cards while the agency comes up with a system to prevent fraud.

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