Former Department of Revenue director takes blames for procedure changes
After four months of probing, lawmakers finally figure out who is responsible for approving the scanning and retaining of documents as citizens get a driver's license.
State lawmakers have identified the person responsible for giving permission to scan and retain personal documents at licensing bureaus. This was the second day a House committee questioned high-level members of Gov. Jay Nixon's staff.
The committee is tasked to find why documents like birth certificates and mortgage statements were needed to get a driver's license. Lawmakers believe the changes were done to comply with the federal law, Real ID. But Missouri opted out of it in 2009.
Former Department of Revenue director Alana Barragan-Scott said it was her decision to change procedures. She says the changes were never in compliance with Real ID. What she simply wanted to happen was to enhance driver’s license security and prevent further fraud.
“The directive was given to implement the new system,” Barragan-Scott said as she was questioned by committee members. “The buck stopped on my desk, so [I gave permission].”
Who was responsible was just one question lawmakers have had difficulties getting an answer to for about the past four months. Now, they need to know why the changes were made, because they're not buying the former director's explanation. Barragan-Scott says the changes may look similar to requirements of Real ID, but that's not the case. She claims the law prohibiting Missouri from complying with the federal law doesn't bar them from adding extra security.
Lawmakers were baffled because Barragan-Scott has been the only one able to answer the majority of their questions.
“As for a formal game plan, my department, I, my staff, no one sat down and specifically wrote, you know 'Here's what we do now,'” Barragan-Scott said.
Lawmakers are concerned about what, if any, control the governor has in any of his departments. Barragan-Scott says she didn't talk to the governor about the changes. Lawmakers are starting to question how much the governor doesn't know.
“He's either totally misinformed, he's totally disconnected or he's playing dumb,” Rep. Don Phillips, R-Kimberling City, said.
Committee members will take all information they gather in these hearings and come up with suggestions to prevent something like this from happening again. Nixon signed a bill in July to stop the scanning of all documents within the Department of Revenue.
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