Florida officials had been exploring many possible solutions to the problem of long lines in the state’s drivers’ license offices, which had reached a peak of media attention in the summer of 1984. A task force of executives in businesses featuring high volume, face-to-face transactions was appointed to develop recommendations. The Department also sought private sector help from the AAA Motor Club by arranging to house a drivers' license issuance facility in a Miami AAA office. These circumstances heightened awareness of business’ potential role in the effort to improve drivers’ license applicant services.
In response, the State of Florida is opening one-person, drivers’ license renewal offices ("express offices") at retail outlets in local shopping centers. These offices handle renewals that do not require road tests. The retail stores donate about 200-300 square feet of the space, rehabilitate it for use by the drivers’ license office, and absorb any added utility and housekeeping costs. The offices are staffed by regular state employees and equipped by the state. Two such offices opened September 3, 1985 in Pinellas County at Eckerd Drug stores. A third opened February 27, 1986 in Broward County at a Winn-Dixie grocery store. These are considered pilot sites. The state is tentatively planning to add about five more in 1986-1987.
The tie-in with private business, especially retail store outlets in shopping malls that donate space and associated utilities, is this program’s principal innovation. An additional and novel aspect of this initiative is that express offices are small, one-person operations, unusual for any government service at any level. This structure greatly enlarges the potential locations and reduces costs of such offices.
Measures used to evaluate program success include: a) public acceptance (defined by numbers of applicants served and percentage of renewals in area served); b) productivity (defined by the percentage of maximum office output for drivers’ license renewals; and c) official acceptance (defined by approval and support for expansion of the program on the part of State and corporate officials). As an indicator of public acceptance, in September of 1985—the first month of program operation—926 licenses were renewed. Just several months later, in February 1986, 1,266 licenses were renewed at express offices. Productivity over that same period also increased 21 percent of maximum to 25 percent of maximum. Lastly, Department of Motor Vehicle management has revised the number of express offices planned for opening within the next year from 12 to 14, limited primarily by the availability of critical equipment items. Eckerd Drug Company remains supportive of expansion to new locations within their chain. A grocery store chain has also begun to participate with expectations of additional locations.