OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – For weeks Oklahomans have experienced extremely slow service when at Service Oklahoma agencies and sometimes no service at all.

Drivers have been frustrated that they aren’t getting the services they need or are having to wait days to even find out.

“You’ve got to crawl before you can run,” KFOR went on a tour with the Chief Executive Officer of Service Oklahoma Jay Doyle.

A long line forms as people wait for Service Oklahoma. Image KFOR.

Last May, Governor Kevin Stitt signed legislation switching driver and car services in the state to an agency called Service Oklahoma, hoping for a permanent solution to the long lines and frustration experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before that, at least 18 months were put into refining the bill the governor would sign. It seems as though it hasn’t helped but instead grown harder when needing to be a part of the licensing process.

There are people who are getting to the Service Oklahoma location around 2 a.m. and are still being turned away hours later.

The services provided at these centers include a new license for people moving to Oklahoma from another state, teens who turn 16 and qualify for a new license and for changing the type of license you have.

You can only renew a current Oklahoma driver’s license at a Tag Agency.

CEO Doyle said that they are understaffed by nearly 25% and need people. He also said that another issue seems to be with how many citizens are coming in.

Oklahomans wait in line to find out they aren’t accepted for the day. {KFOR}

Why is all of this taking so long every day? It’s meant to make dealing with the license process easier and faster but it’s not. Why are people waiting hours just to be rejected?

“Staffing is a major reason why. We have 60 positions posted right now across the state to try and put more bodies in seats,” said Doyle. “We’ve talked about this before, that there are really some staffing challenges we have. At our I-240 location, we only have eight people working there out of the twenty positions available.

I think there’s another piece of it too, and that is an educational component for citizens. Maybe there is a major chunk of citizens that are waiting in line when they could achieve the same thing through a digital service,” said Doyle.

Service Oklahoma was intended to be an improvement but right away there were issues. It took 18 months to perfect a bill and then another year or so after signed by Governor Stitt. Do you think this is an improvement?

“To say we haven’t improved things at all, I think is wholly inaccurate from the perspective of this location (Chesapeake). Here we have seen around three times more citizens than what the previous headquarters location saw. The same thing at the I-240 location, we are seeing two times more citizens than what was previously seen.

But then, you also have to know that we’ve improved our client’s rate in our wait times significantly. We’ve added our seven new digital products that are allowing citizens to have better access than ever before. So, we’ve made some really good gains. But, to your point, it’s not where we need to be and we’re continuing to make improvements every single day,” said Doyle.

What if you need to go in person to renew your license or be in person but you keep getting turned away? Could you be legally responsible if you get pulled over?

“If you have a license that you need to renew then you can go to one of our 30 locations across the state. But, there are also 250 license operators across the state as well. And you can also renew that driver’s license online as well. For a citizen to not have an avenue to renew their license if they have an existing Oklahoma license, there are ways to do that.

That specifically is for an Oklahoma license. You could also get your license renewed online as well. If you’re having challenges at one location, you can go to our website. It has all of our 280 different locations across the state and what services they offer.”

How are your staff? Are they happy to work here?

“I have the best staff in the world. It’s really important to remember that we have a culture of about 250 employees from the Department of Public Safety and then transitioned over to about 95 employees from the Tax Commission. So, you’re molding three different kinds of cultures together and our staff and one great.

And yes, there is plenty of work to be done. There’s work to be done every day, but we’re c committed to being able to deliver that great service. That’s not just me, that’s every single employee that we have.”

When are we going to see things change? When will it get better?

“I’d like to say that when we first took over, we added seven terminals to the I-240 location. And so, we obviously need employees to be able to be in those terminals. but, we’ve added capacity to that location already. Once we can get butts in seats for that location specifically, we have eight potential employees right now who are in the background check of the application process.

Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, we’ll have new employees turning on and rolling on to improve. Oklahomans also, here soon will have 22 extra locations to choose from. And, once we’re fully staffed we can hopefully help mitigate the issues.

We’re going to start seeing improvements very quickly. Now, is it going to be 100% perfect? I’ll be honest, no, it won’t be. But we already have and are continuing to make improvements as we go,” said Doyle.

Doyle said that there are a few fixes coming from outside of just hiring more staff.

“Staffing is just one step of many,” said Doyle. “We are also planning on working with legislative leaders to come up with legislation to make it easier for citizens to be able to get a driver’s permit and that initial driver’s license.”

He admits that there are many issues with the service as it is even though it was created to make it easier for Oklahomans.

“To your point,” said Doyle. “What you see is not where we need to be and we’re continuing to make improvements every single day.”