“Cash-strapped New York has tentatively chosen the highest bidder to produce driver’s licenses under a disputed contract that would provide only black-and-white photos and end up costing the state nearly $38 million more than the current contract if it’s approved,” the Associated Press reports today.

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Your next driver’s license? 

The current driver’s license vendor, De La Rue North America Inc., has had the contract for 16 years but was advised by the Division of Motor Vehicles 10 months ago that the price of licenses would need to be reduced due to “significant budgetary constraints,” the AP story says. De La Rue submitted a bid 10 percent lower than the current contract price — but the DMV reportedly awarded the contract to CBN Secure Technology Inc. of Ottawa, Canada, even though CBN’s bid was $38 million higher.

The award is being contested by De La Rue, which is based in England, and by another losing bidder, Massachusetts-based MorphoTrustUSA.

One possible explanation for the DMV’s selection emerges further down in the AP report:

State records show cost was valued at just 20 percent of the evaluation of bids, with a 30 percent emphasis on security. Other categories included production and quality control, the production site and data security, the imaging device and experience and expertise, according to the record.

Trade publications note the CBN technology and black-and-white photos are well-regarded for security in driver’s licenses and other documents.

The state comptroller’s office is reviewing the bid.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

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