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NJ Senate Panel Begins Investigation Of Computer Crashes, Long Lines At State Agencies

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A hearing on problems at the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission - Lodi, NJ - Aug 4, 2011 (credit: Levon Putney / WCBS 880)

A hearing on problems at the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission – Lodi, NJ – Aug 4, 2011 (credit: Levon Putney / WCBS 880)

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LODI, NJ (WCBS 880/AP) – Officials say the long lines at New Jersey motor vehicle locations are not due to budget cuts, but rather a lack of online services.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports 

A New Jersey Senate panel has been looking to improve the state’s aging technology infrastructure.

Thursday’s session in Lodi comes after recent computer crashes that affected operations at several state agencies, most noticeably the Motor Vehicle Commission.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo opened the meeting by disputing statements by Gov. Chris Christie that $5.5 million cut from the budget by Democrats was for upgrades to MVC computers.

Sarlo says the cuts were for unrelated programs that his appropriations committee wasn’t given adequate explanations for.

Sarlo said he believed long lines at MVC agencies were also due to staff cuts from agencies that have closed, but said while “the volumes have increased, the staffing has not decreased.”

Motor Vehicles Commissioner Raymond Martinez testified that more people are coming in to renew licenses and says the big problem is that New Jersey is one of five states without the ability to renew licenses online.

“It’s not a matter of building more offices, brick and mortar, or hiring more employees. It’s a matter of giving the customer what they want,” said Martinez. “That is to do their convenience, like they do their banking or insurance, doing it online.”

Martinez says he wants the MVC to offer that option by next year and is trying to ramp up the technology now.

“This will reduce the need for customers to come visit motor vehicle agencies and I believe that is something they would much prefer than additional offices down the street,” said Martinez.

Christie has said he would consider restoring money for technology upgrades.

The crashes that happened last month kept MVC workers idle and caused frustrated customers to stand in long lines.

The committee will also attempt to determine if the crashes were isolated incidents or representative of deeper problems.

Does this probe sound like an efficient use of public funds? Sound off in our comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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