DMV’s choice steams executive in Sparks | nnbw.com
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DMV’s choice steams executive in Sparks

John Seelmeyer

The chief executive officer of a Sparks company was steaming last week after the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles bought customer-service kiosks from a Japanese company.

State officials say, however, that the northern Nevada company didn’t make a formal proposal to win the business.

Charles Bluth, president and chief executive officer of Computerized Screening Inc., said his company had been encouraged by DMV officials three years ago to invest about $150,000 in the development of a DMV kiosk.

Yet, he said, Computerized Screening wasn’t invited to bid once the DMV decided to move forward.

Instead, state officials chose JCM American, a Henderson-based unit of a Japanese company, to develop a self-service kiosk that the DVM is rolling out across the state.

Bluth said he didn’t know the state was dealing with JCM until he saw media accounts of the kiosks’ introduction.

“I’m not a happy camper at all,” Bluth said.

“I’m not accustomed to dealing with people like this.”

Kimberly Tarter, a purchasing officer for the state government, said JCM was one of five companies that responded to a request for proposals in November 2002.

CSI was not one of the five companies, she said.

JCM won a one-year contract to develop the kiosk, then won the larger contract after demonstrating that its product worked.

Tom Jacobs, a spokesman for the DMV, said officials didn’t believe the CSI system would meet their needs when they first saw a demonstration about three years ago.

Computerized Screening makes freestanding kiosks that allow consumers to check their weight and blood pressure, maintain their personal records and learn about health-related questions.

From there, Computerized Screening figured it was only a short step to creation of a machine that could allow consumers to quickly renew vehicle registrations.

DMV executives agreed, Bluth said, and encouraged his company to invest in the concept.

While top executives of the agency liked the idea, Bluth said his staff didn’t get much help elsewhere.

“For three years, the DMV fought me tooth and nail,” he said.

The biggest battles were over access to DMV’s database to allow Computerized Screening to ensure its software would meet the state’s needs.

Other states with which Computerized Screening is working have been far more cooperative, Bluth said, and his company is building a prototype for one of them.

Bluth is unhappy, too, because his Nevada company was passed over by the state government in favor of Osaka-based JCM.

“We are a Nevada company employing people from Nevada,” he said.

Bluth said executives from Computerized Screening want assurances that the company’s intellectual property wasn’t leaked to JCM for its machine.

“The DMV hasn’t heard the last from me,” he said.

Among the 14 locations at which the JCM kiosks have been installed are the main DMV offices in Reno and Carson City and DMV Express offices in Reno and Sparks.

The kiosks take credit card or cash transactions.While ATM-like machines initially handle only vehicle renewals, DMV officials plan to add driver’s license renewals, insurance reinstatements and the ordering of specialty license plates to the lineup.

They also plan to upgrade the machines to accept personal checks.