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State senator criticizes disputed DMV contract

Thursday, November 15, 2012 - Updated: 7:09 PM

ALBANY (AP) -- A New York senator said Wednesday that the state's plan to choose the highest bidder to produce driver's licenses with black-and-white images is unacceptable, while the state defended the company, saying it provides the most secure product.

"If it is an overbid, (it's) unacceptable considering the problems we have with Hurricane Sandy, the devastation we see on the Eastern Seaboard," said Sen. Mark Grisanti, an Erie County Republican. "We need every penny we can get to help out the victims of Hurricane Sandy."

The Department of Motor Vehicles has tentatively selected a Canadian company for a contract that would cost $38 million more than the current vendor, according to court papers. The state Comptroller's Office is reviewing the $88.5 million contact after the apparent losing bidders filed protests and a lawsuit saying they met all the specifications with color photos but were dismissed unfairly at a cost to taxpayers.

On Wednesday, the state defended its decision.

"The two losing bidders were not selected because their products were inferior with respect to document security and anti-tampering measures that are standard for licenses," state motor vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala said in a statement. "Since the driver license serves as a de facto national identification card, it is extremely important that the documents we provide the citizens of New York are the most secure and least able to be altered or counterfeited.

"We are confident that the vendor we have chosen will provide the best value for the citizens of New York," Fiala said.

The driver's license contract is rebid under the federal "Real ID" measure from the Department of Homeland Security to make licenses more secure, and more states are expected to face similar contract decisions.


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