Does Minnesota DVS database need accountability?

In the October 4, 2011, edition of the Pioneer Press, reporter Brady Gervais writes, "DPS (Department of Public Safety) audits the DVS database monthly and monitors it regularly, Skoogman said. If patterns of potential misuse are found, DPS contacts the individual agency." Andy Skoogman is the chief public information officer for DPS.

Recently, I used the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act to request to inspect data of the Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) database audit reports of agencies and police departments that were involved in recent allegations of misuse of the Minnesota Drivers and Vehicle Services database.  I also wanted to inspect all data related to the Department of Public Safety DVS audits as to policies, procedures, standards, and format for what the audit is, does, and how it is done.  Thirdly, all data as to what the process is for investigating violation of law as to the improper use of the DVS database.

You may be asking why would I want to do this?

First, I was concerned about the violation of our privacy with the DVS database that holds drivers' records, photos and personal data such as home addresses, phone numbers, and possibly medical data. Secondly, the DVS database has had problems and abuses for many years, and thirdly, media reports gives me doubts about the Department of Public Safety efforts to protect our privacy.

The response by the Department of Public Safety(DPS) to my data practices request is quite puzzling.

To my request to inspect DVS audit reports of law enforcement agencies.  The response was, "The Department does not conduct audits of law enforcement agencies and therefore the Department has no data that is responsive to this request."  Further because there are no audits, DPS states "there are no policies, procedures, standards and format, nor an explanation of how they are done."  As to what the process is in investigating improper use of the DVS database, the reply. "DVS does not investigate violation of law," therefore no data.  There are investigations for misuse, but it is done by the agency that misused the database.

Is there accountability and privacy protection in the Driver and Vehicle Services database?  Maybe not.