Giannoulias replaces Illinois institution as secretary of state and drives modernization

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias is pictured during his inauguration Monday January 10 at the Bank of Springfield Center. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Jerry Nowicki)

Releases transition plan with input from former GOP contender Brady

Capitol News Illinois
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SPRINGFIELD — Customer service is paramount for newly sworn Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias as he takes over the state’s second-largest constitutional office, replacing the man who held it for nearly a quarter-century.

“Upgrading and adopting new technologies will be at the forefront of everything we do,” Giannoulias said in an interview with Capitol News Illinois at the end of his second week in office. “This office is rooted in customer service and my goal is to provide the best possible customer service.”

With over 4,000 employees spread across 20 departments, the State Secretariat has more direct contact with the public than any other constitutional office. Best known for overseeing driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations, the office is also responsible for supporting state libraries, maintaining an organ and tissue donation registry, and maintaining the 20-building Capitol Complex, among other things.

Last week, Giannoulias released his team’s transition report, a steering document compiled by 124 people serving on nine different subcommittees.

The report outlined priority areas for the office, including improvements to transportation facilities, ethics and office policies, and technology improvements. The report is also based on ideas and suggestions submitted by more than 800 Illinois residents through RevUpIllinois, a website operated by the Office of the Secretary of State that allows residents to submit a survey of the Office’s performance.

“We had some great suggestions, some were ideas we hadn’t thought of. Some were complaints that gave us a good idea of ​​what to focus on, so they were critical,” Giannoulias said. “And I would encourage people to keep sending us their ideas.”

Late last year, Giannoulias asked State Rep. Dan Brady to serve R-Bloomington on his transition team. Although it can be considered quite unusual for a defeated opponent to take part in this procedure, Brady said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the offer.

“I appreciate the opportunity to continue the ministry in this way, to use my expertise and experience, and to suggest some of the things I spoke about during the campaign,” Brady said. “It was an opportunity to share knowledge and experiences that will hopefully be helpful.”

For both Giannoulias and Brady, the move says a lot about the Bureau’s ability to be non-partisan. In many ways, it’s also testament to the legacy of outgoing secretary Jesse White, who held the post from 1999 until his retirement aged 88 this year.

White praised both candidates in the general election, noting that he had worked with both on policy proposals. The retired secretary has also had crossover appeal with voters throughout his career as a consistent lead voter on the statewide ticket.

“I think in general people are fed up with people who just hate the other party and don’t want to work with them, and I pride myself on always working with anyone who has good ideas, whether Democrat or Republican. ‘ said Giannoulias.

Brady said some of his ideas that made it into the final report included working with community colleges to lease space for DMV facilities that already have modern infrastructure capabilities, expanding remote services, and cross-training staff to support them Driver and vehicle services included.

One of Giannoulias’ top priorities for the office is to make its ride-hailing facilities “the most customer-centric and accessible in the country.”

“And that means executing our aggressive modernization plan with technology to overhaul and improve customer service and reduce wait times,” said Giannoulias.

The Subcommittee on Driver Facilities and Road Safety outlined several suggestions in the report. These include the establishment of an online appointment scheduling service for driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations, as well as an electronic document upload and approval service. The report also proposes the introduction of optional digital number plates, electronic vehicle registration and insurance documentation.

Giannoulias also noted that the modernization “will play a role in every single department,” not just driving services.

This includes making the registration database more accessible to lobbyists, increasing accessibility to e-books and online educational resources in libraries, and further streamlining technology services.

Brady, due to his experience as a McLean County coroner, served as chair of the subcommittee on organ and tissue donation. He was also a board member of Gift of Hope, a non-profit organ and tissue donation organization.

“It’s been a passion of mine and I want those numbers to grow from a registry standpoint and how we can do more, not just at the facilities but across the state,” he said.

Some of the report’s suggestions for increasing donor registration numbers include automating the donor process to reduce the registration burden, training government officials on organ donation so they can better educate the public, and working with coroners and medical offices to streamline the process to enhance.

On the first day in office from Giannoulias, he signed an executive order to improve ethics and transparency in office, a pledge he made in his inaugural address.

The order contains six provisions, including an inspection of state vehicles to ensure they are used only for business purposes, strengthening the office’s policy on sexual harassment, and prohibiting employees of the Secretary of State from contributing to the office’s political fund.

Now, according to Giannoulias, it is a matter of implementing these proposals.

“We’re going to have digital IDs, digital driver’s licenses and e-title systems, we’re going to do all of that,” Giannoulias said. “But right now we need to modernize the current process to make sure people don’t stand in line to make sure a piece of paper doesn’t touch nine hands before it comes back to a customer.”

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide and hundreds of radio and television stations. It is primarily funded by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

UPDATED: State prepares further defense of assault weapons ban

UPDATED: State prepares further defense of assault weapons ban


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