Anti-Car Theft Act:

Issues Concerning Additional Federal Funding of Vehicle Title System

GGD-99-132: Published: Aug 13, 1999. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 1999.


Laurie E. Ekstrand
(202) 512-2758


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Justice's (DOJ) development and implementation of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), focusing on: (1) the status of NMVTIS; and (2) whether DOJ had evaluated NMVTIS' expected costs and benefits to ensure that additional federal investment in NMVTIS is justified.

GAO noted that: (1) DOJ has not evaluated NMVTIS' expected life-cycle costs and benefits to ensure that additional federal funding is justified; (2) the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 and best practices used by public and private organizations to manage information technology investments suggest that such an evaluation will provide an analytical basis for informed investment decisions; (3) as of March 1999, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) expected the development and implementation of NMVTIS to cost about $34 million; (4) AAMVA is expected to update this estimate when its seven-state test of NMVTIS is finished; (5) AAMVA estimated that test would be completed within the first quarter of calendar year 2000; (6) through FY 1999, Congress has provided DOJ and the Department of Transportation with about $8 million of an expected $22 million federal investment in NMVTIS; (7) the states and AAMVA and its contractors would be expected to provide the remaining $12 million; (8) NMVTIS was designed to allow users to electronically validate an existing vehicle title and title-related information; (9) however, a potential barrier to electronically validating titles and title-related information could be the lack of full participation by all state departments of motor vehicles; and (10) although 43 states of the 47 states responding to GAO's survey thought that they could implement NMVTIS and 32 states of the 40 nonparticipating states had expressed an interest in doing so, 27 of the 47 states were concerned about how they would fund NMVTIS.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendation for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should: (1) perform a life-cycle cost benefit analysis to determine if additional federal investment in AAMVA's design of NMVTIS is justified; and (2) provide additional federal funds for NMVTIS only if such funding is supported by the analysis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOJ agreed to do a life-cycle cost benefit analysis and will obligate if analysis justifies further investment.

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