Anne S. Ferro, the longtime administrator of the state Motor Vehicle Administration who is credited with reforming the agency and reducing wait times, said yesterday that she is leaving her job to work in private industry.
It is the second time this year that the state announced that Ferro would be leaving the MVA. When the Ehrlich administration took office in January, Ferro was among dozens of state workers who received letters of dismissal. But lawmakers protested, and Ferro kept her job.
This time, she said she is leaving of her own accord. Ferro will take a job as president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association, a trade group representing the trucking industry. She will be replaced by David H. Hugel, who was installed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. as the MVA's deputy administrator in April.
"I was ready for a professional change," Ferro, who has been the MVA head since 1997, said in an interview yesterday. "There comes a time, I think, when it's good for an organization to get change at the top. People get tired of the same old ways and the same old boss."
Her departure comes shortly after the MVA was slammed by customers for wait times that reached four hours or more last month during the rollout of a new driver's licensing system. Also last month, the agency shut its branch offices for a day because of a computer worm.
Ferro said her departure is not related to those problems. She also noted that the average wait time at MVA offices, which peaked at more than 100 minutes in August, is down to 55 minutes.
A hallmark of Ferro's tenure has been a focus on customer service and a reduction in wait times. When she became administrator in 1997, the average wait was 70 minutes. Four years later, she had reduced that figure to 33 minutes.
State Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan issued a statement yesterday saying that Ferro has done an "excellent job wrestling with some of the tough problems" at the MVA. But Ferro's supporters in the legislature said her departure was inevitable, given the early signal that she might not last in the new administration.
"It's disappointing but not surprising, because the administration treated her badly," said Del. Peter Franchot, a Democrat who is chairman of a transportation subcommittee.
Ferro, whose last day will be Nov. 30, said she renewed her license Tuesday, her 46th birthday, and that it took one hour. "It was calm, it was controlled," she said. "I had a great time."