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DOA, More than a Junk Drawer of Services, Podcast Says

Nov 19, 2021

The DMV, as an institution, may never escape comedic quips about bureaucracy. However, the Alaska DMV, Division of Motor Vehicles, undertook innovations in the worst of times — the pandemic — and residents are approving, says Paula Vrana, the new commissioner for a State department that goes mostly unnoticed: the Department of Administration.

Commissioner Vrana appeared on FirstHand, a podcast produced by Host Patty Sullivan in the Office of Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy.

The DMV recently earned the best-ever customer satisfaction scores on record, says Commissioner Vrana. Putting a virtual observer in the vehicle for road tests via a GoPro camera suction-cupped to the windshield was one way the DMV got innovative with administering driver’s license tests, Vrana says. The DMV also removed fodder for jokes by reducing its average lobby wait time to 10 min. 13 seconds. 

The DMV is just one of the 14 divisions or agencies managed or supported under the DOA, a department whose responsibilities are so varied it may be considered the junk drawer of State government — you don’t really know what is in there, but it always seems to have what you need.  

Commissioner Vrana describes the DOA as the unseen mortar that gives the structure of government its strength.

Vrana is a fourth-generation Alaskan from Skagway, whose leadership style is shaped by the realities of small-town coastal Alaska. “I know what it’s like to have barge deliveries for groceries once per week,” Vrana told FirstHand.

Commissioner Vrana lives in the Matanuska Valley and owns horses and cattle, which she says keeps her down to earth, disciplined, and committed to hard work. Over the years, occasionally, her Jersey milk cows have demanded her to milk them twice a day, every day–no holidays, she says.

She is proud of the Office of Internet Technology’s delivery of services under the duress of the pandemic. OIT support took 6,000 employees to a telework environment in a matter of weeks, that’s 40 percent of the workforce, she says.

“Everyone at OIT deserves credit for protecting State employees and the public and keeping the government running in the face of the greatest challenge we’ve ever seen as a state,” Vrana says, on the show.

Listen to Episode 4 of FirstHand, the podcast here.