Audit  Audit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles

This audit calls on the RMV to take steps to strengthen its oversight of the issuance of driver's licenses and handicap placards. It looked at the period of July 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016.

Organization: Office of the State Auditor
Date published: September 6, 2018

Executive Summary

In accordance with Section 12 of Chapter 11 of the Massachusetts General Laws, the Office of the State Auditor has conducted a performance audit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) for the period July 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016. In this performance audit, we assessed RMV’s Automated Licensing and Registration System (ALARS) to evaluate RMV’s administration of state driver’s licenses and disability parking placards and its collection of revenue.

Below is a summary of our findings and recommendations, with links to each page listed.

Finding 1

RMV did not effectively administer the use of disability parking placards.


  1. RMV should use the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which identifies individuals who have died in other states as well as Massachusetts, to improve its efforts to identify and cancel deceased individuals’ placards.
  2. RMV should require all individuals with permanent placards to reapply every five years.
  3. RMV should take the measures necessary to ensure that its database of information regarding individuals who have been issued disability parking placards is accurate and complete.

Finding 2

RMV issued 1,905 licenses after licensees’ dates of death and did not deactivate 4,688 licenses for individuals who died before their licenses expired.


  1. Rather than using the Department of Public Health’s Vital Statistics File to provide a notification of death, RMV should use another source, such as the Death Master File, to verify death dates for individuals who die before license expiration and immediately change their license status to expired.
  2. RMV should strengthen controls to verify that people named on license applications are not deceased, perhaps by instituting a check against the Death Master File that does not limit the list to individuals in Massachusetts.

Finding 3

RMV was unable to locate supporting documentation for 24% of the transactions recorded.


RMV should update its system or create a new system for locating documentation related to a particular date and service location. The updated system should account for instances where the local office has limited space.

A PDF of the audit of the Registry of Motor Vehicles is available here.

Post-Audit Action

RMV informed us that its new ATLAS program will replace its legacy system, known as ALARS, and will enable the issuance of REAL ID–compliant credentials,1 allow more online transactions for individual customers as well as business customers and government partners, and improve service delivery overall.


1.    To obtain a federal REAL ID license or identification card, applicants are required to prove that they are United States citizens or have a lawful presence in the United States.

List of Abbreviations


Automated Licensing and Registration System


Code of Massachusetts Regulations


Department of Public Health


Massachusetts Department of Transportation


Office of the State Auditor


Registry of Motor Vehicles


Social Security number





(617) 727-3014


Massachusetts State House
Room 230
Boston, MA 02133

Help Us Improve  with your feedback

Please do not include personal or contact information.