all systems go

December 2015

Mississippi, Clerus Solutions and AAMVA partner to successfully complete DIVS

After receiving a grant from the Department of Homeland Security in 2008, Mississippi became the lead state on the DL/ID Verification Systems (DIVS) program, which comprises state-led governance and evaluation of five verification projects: birth certificate verification, Social Security number verification, immigration status verification, U.S. passport verification and State-to-State (S2S) driver’s license verification. A powerful, three-way partnership between Mississippi, Clerus Solutions and AAMVA led to a smooth and timely completion of all five projects.

“There is a tremendous wealth of knowledge on a national basis from each of the organizations,” says Clay Johnston, management information systems director for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. “It would have been very difficult to accomplish the program without the organizations involved.”

Under contract with Mississippi, AAMVA provided system development and operational services for DIVS, while Clerus Solutions provided program management. Tom Osterbind, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Clerus, says this helped lessen the stress and workload for AAMVA.

“In the DIVS program, AAMVA’s role is focused on providing [information technology] services under contract to Mississippi. Clerus and the pilot states using the services are tasked with governing, defining and evaluating the services,” Osterbind explains. “This work specialization allowed each participant to provide relevant expertise and freed AAMVA to focus on the delivery and operation of quality IT services.”

The S2S verification service was by far the largest part of the project, and is considered the most notable improvement to highway safety since the Commercial Driver’s License Information System was first developed in the 1980s. S2S supports the concept of “one driver, one license” by making it easy for states to determine if an applicant already holds a driver’s license or ID card in another state so it can then enforce its own laws and regulations regarding issuance.

“We wanted to improve driver safety and ID security,” says Phillipe Guiot, chief information officer at AAMVA. “We achieved that for our members, so the project is a great success from that point of view.”

While the other four verification projects within DIVS had existing systems on which to expand, S2S had no such system and was brand new. The ease of development was largely due to the great working relationship between Mississippi, Clerus Solutions and AAMVA, and a number of other states involved in the pilot program.

“We worked with a large number of states without a lot of costly on-site meetings,” says Osterbind. “We heavily utilized virtual meetings and production of minutes so that travel was minimized. But we still had a substantial travel and meeting budget because face-to-face is essential to building partnerships.”

Wisconsin was the first state to implement S2S, and the process went without any issues. Because S2S and DIVS are state-led projects and completely voluntary, AAMVA, Clerus and Mississippi wanted to make implementation as efficient as possible.

“One of our goals was to minimize the level of effort that states are required to put in to become part of the project,” says Johnston. “There is no active federal oversight of the S2S system, so it is truly by the states for the states.”

State-led governance also means that it is important for every state to participate, Johnston adds. So far, 14 states have signed on for S2S implementation during the pilot period, which ends in March 2017. Another 23 states have expressed interest in implementation after the pilot period is complete.

“Now that the service went live, we see more interest from states,” says Guiot. “It’s more ‘when’ they will be able to get on board than ‘if.’”