My New Measurement for Governors

Want to know how good a governor is? (Yes, I’m looking at you, Rick Perry.) Make a visit to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

In Texas, you’d better take a book, a crossword, and two or three past issues of the New Yorker. I recently spent 4.5 hours waiting there with Allisonette #4, and we still didn’t get the problem resolved (one guy said one thing, another guy said, sorry, what the first guy said is not right, etc.).

In Indiana, on the other hand, visits to the DMV take an average of six minutes and forty seconds. They know it because they clock it.  Mitch Daniels, Indiana’s governor, mentioned it kind of offhandedly in a small luncheon a couple of weeks ago in Dallas, and the executives around the table nearly exploded in appreciative laughter. In Texas, such a thing is unimaginable. (But then again, so was the fall of the Soviet Union, which the DMV so much resembles.) In his new book, Keeping the Republic, he explains how he did it. Basically, it came down to collecting and analyzing data about the problem, figuring out where technology could help, then applying some intelligent scrutiny to where it couldn’t.

Yes, I know. I mentioned the word “intelligent.” Poor Texas.

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