State Sen. Griffo says state is spending more, getting less from new Canadian driver’s license provider
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 5:37 pm

State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo (R-C-IP, Rome) wants a bid process for producing state driver’s licenses put back out for bidding again.

“What we have is a situation where the state said they needed to reduce costs, but are spending more, and will be replacing the color photos on licenses with black-and-white images,” said Griffo, whose district includes Potsdam and a swath of central St. Lawrence County.

The announced bid winner, CBN Secure Technology, a subsidiary of Canadian Bank Note of Ottawa, has not been awarded the Department of Motor Vehicles contract yet. The award would have to be reviewed by the state comptroller first, according to Griffo aide Rayan Aguam.

But the Canadian company’s bid has apparently been chosen in spite of a price tag that is $38 million higher than the current contract.

The Albany Times Union is reporting today that, according to court records examined by The Associated Press, “the losing vendors, including the company that has produced New York licenses with color photos for 16 years, are protesting the $88.5 million award to a Canadian company.”

The newspaper also said the DMV put the contract out to bid to cut costs.

As a result, current contract holder De La Rue North America submitted a bid for the new eight-year deal that was 10 percent lower than their current contract. That new bid was nearly $38 million less than CBN's bid.

“Awarding a bid to a company that is $38 million higher than its nearest competitor flunks the test of common sense,” Griffo said.

Griffo said the decision puts New York taxpayers in the situation of paying more but getting less, because the licenses would no longer have color images that he said are vital to agencies that use the license for identification purposes.

Griffo said that he is aware that vendors who lost the bid believe that the state was not fully forthcoming with vendors about the state’s specifications for the new licenses, but that vendor displeasure alone is not the reason he wants a re-bid.

“State government does not have the money to spend to award a contract that is significantly above what we are paying now and one that provides a product that may be inferior to what the state wants and needs. Rather than enter into a contract on such an important matter with this kind of uncertainty, I believe the state has the obligation to re-draft its specifications to ensure that the product funded will be equally secure and of equal quality to what we now have. This will ensure that the people get what they deserve. Before taking any further steps to sign a contract that could last for eight years, the DMV owes it to the people of New York to avoid making a bad process worse,” Griffo said.

Griffo, who represents that state’s 47 Senate District, won another term in that position in last week’s election, unopposed on the ballot.

The district includes the St. Lawrence County towns of Massena, Brasher, Norfolk, Stockholm, Potsdam, Pierrepont, Russell, Clifton, Fine, and Pitcairn, along with Lewis and Oneida counties.

The Times-Union story can be seen at