On Wednesday, Oct. 11, the House Oversight and Reform Committee listened to representatives from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) over multiple concerns, including outsourcing driver’s license production to a Canadian company.

The committee wanted to investigate the process that DMV used to award a contract for printing driver’s licenses to Canadian company CBN Secure Technologies. CBN stands for “Canadian Bank Note.”

DMV Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and Deputy Commissioner Portia Manley defended the DMV’s actions before the committee on Wednesday and answered lawmaker’s questions.

Only a select few companies manufacture credentials compliant with the stringent regulations set by federal, state, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA). The DMV, in its discerning process, decided to conduct interviews with only three out of the five companies that initially met their criteria. Following site visits and presentations in Raleigh, the DMV officials ultimately opted for CBN due to the security features their technology possesses.

Goodwin defended the methodology employed by the DMV in selecting CBN. He referenced Session Law 2021-134 (H.B. 650), which empowers the DMV to exempt five information technology projects from DIT oversight and requirements, thereby expediting the pace of technological modernization projects.

The DMV exempted the project from IT procurement oversight and did not use a competitive bidding process, which sparked criticism from lawmakers.

Additionally, lawmakers had concerns about whether the vendor’s technology may be unable to produce driver’s licenses that comply with state law.

Goodwin answered a multitude of questions from both sides of the aisle, including from Reps. Jeff McNeely, R-Iredell, Shelly Willingham, D-Edgecombe, Allison Dahle, D-Wake, and Allen Chesser, R-Nash.

Additionally, the committee sought to understand Goodwin’s reversal of extending the 8-year driver’s license renewal period to 16 years.

“Goodwin made the legislative budget request for DMV in February,” according to a committee statement to the media before the hearing. “Since the budget passed, however, the commissioner has spoken out against the provision, saying the extension violates federal REAL ID requirements. Members attempt to determine when DMV learned that the longer renewal period would not meet federal requirements, why it was not until after making the request, and why the agency did not make legislators aware sooner.”

Rep. Willingham asked about black and white, or grayscale, licenses and whether that was the standard.

Goodwin responded by saying that grayscale is what the military uses. However, Rep. Chesser had his military ID with him and showed it to Goodwin. The ID was in color.

Goodwin said he may have been mistaken about the military ID standard being grayscale.

Chesser followed up by asking if the Canadian business the DMV chose to do business with firewalls their data. Goodwin said they follow ISO standards. Chesser shared that his concern is protecting North Carolina citizens’ data.

Goodwin said grayscale is the industry standard and that U.S. passports use grayscale now.

When asked whether driver’s licenses can have 16-year or 8-year expirations, Goodwin said that the federal government requires the physical cards to be valid for no longer than eight years and requested the budget be amended when the House makes technical corrections.