The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has called on councils to tell them what it should do to improve services and reduce costs at a local level.
"We want to get out there and discover what your needs are," Kevin Rees, DVLA's Head of the Customer Focus Group told the local government audience of Local Digital's DVLA Discovery Day in his keynote presentation.
The free event provided a rare opportunity for the agency and councils nationwide to share ideas and discuss how to enhance efficiency on both sides.
Many of the councils attending the event said that the ability to 'plug in' to an API enabling the exchange of vehicle-related data with DVLA would greatly improve services. An API could align data between central and local government, easing the administration of vehicle licence renewal, parking permit administration and the enforcement of unpaid parking fines, among others.
"We want to be the digital centre of excellence for government", Rees told delegates. "We want to be the best. If we can reduce overheads [with digital services], we can reduce what we charge the public".
In April DVLA published a transformation strategy setting out how it will achieve its goal to provide 'simpler, better, safer' services. 'Our goal is not to self-fund from fees as a trading fund. It is to increase efficiency and cut fees for the public', says the strategy report.
While close work with local government had not previously been explored before the event, DVLA has already embarked on discussions around digital transformation with other Government departments. DVLA has, for example, been exploring the possibility of obtaining licence-holder confirmation via the Passport Office's facial recognition engine to combat fraud.
DVLA operates 65 customer-facing services, receives a million calls from drivers each month and administers 23 million printed tax discs annually - unsurprisingly perhaps, three out of the 25 GDS digital exemplars belong to the DVLA:
- Vehicle management - allowing the transfer of car ownership online, set to handle 18 million transactions annually
- Personalised registrations service - to transfer or apply for a number plate online. The service will enable 1.6 million expected transactions annually
- View driving record - up to 40 million drivers will be able to view information from their record, such as what vehicles they can drive and penalty points. The service is also aimed at the insurance industry.
Market research undertaken by DVLA suggested that 82% of DVLA customers preferred to transact online. DVLA's main IT contract expires next year, and services have begun to struggle under ageing IT systems. Along with the fact that the number of programmers who know the code that powers current services is diminishing, Rees told delegates that the time is right for digital reform of DVLA services.