Auditor: Nearly 2000 Licenses Issued to Dead People

September 8, 2018 Updated: September 19, 2018

Massachusett’s Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is under scrutiny after an audit uncovered 1905 licenses being issued to deceased individuals. The audit was released by the office of State Auditor Suzanne Bump on Sept. 6.

Most of these licenses were issued to people who died between 1988 and 2010, with some as early as 1962. Ninety-seven percent of the licenses issued were still active as of Jan. 2018, according to the audit (pdf).

The audit, which was conducted from July 1, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2016, points to the agency’s failure to properly use databases—such as the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File— to identify and deactivate licenses of deceased individuals.

“The failure to prevent individuals from obtaining identification under the names of deceased people creates a significant public safety risk to the Commonwealth,” Bump said in a press release.

These licenses “appeared to have been issued to individuals who were attempting to obtain false information,” according to the audit. “There is a significant risk that they could be used for malicious purposes (e.g., fraud).”

RMV told The Epoch Times that there are flaws in the auditor’s findings. RMV said that it already uses the Death Master File, and the 1900 names provided by the auditor are all confirmed alive.

“This audit is outdated, as it was conducted before the implementation of an entirely new software system which has improved management and tracking capabilities,” said RMV spokesperson Jacquelyn Goddard in a written statement.

Disability Parking Placards Also Issued to the Deceased

The audit also found that the RMV had processed over 10,000 requests for disability parking placards—from individuals who were deceased according to the Death Master File.

According to Bump, a failure to address these placards could result in “lost parking meter revenue and deprive people with disabilities of needed parking.”

In response, RMV said that they don’t require individuals with permanent medical conditions to reapply for placards every five years, as it would be a burden for them. RMV said that all names are run through the Death Master File so they would be aware if someone with a placard had died.

Similar Patterns Found Among Other Agencies

According to Bump, this is not the first time state agencies have failed to remove deceased individuals from their registries.

In 2013, an audit of the Department of Transitional Assistance found that the agency paid over $2 million in benefits to deceased individuals. In 2016, an audit of the Massachusetts State Recruitment Board found that the agency made more than $687,000 in payments to deceased pensioners. In both cases, the audit had shown that the agencies did not have a complete and updated control plan.

In 2010, over 11,000 deceased people were used as applicants or household members for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP is a federally funded program that provides financial assistance to low-income households for heating and cooling costs. This was used fraudulently by thousands of people, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.