ASSEMBLY, No. 2858
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED MAY 1, 1997
By Assemblymen CHARLES, DALTON, Assemblywoman Quigley, Assemblymen Romano, Wisniewski, Cohen, Greenwald, Suliga, Green, Caraballo, Assemblywoman Buono, Assemblymen Jones, Roberts, Garcia, Doria, Barnes, Zisa, Gusciora, Assemblywoman Gill, Assemblymen R.Smith, Stanley, Assemblywomen Turner, Pou, Weinberg and Assemblyman Impreveduto
An Act concerning the inspection of motor vehicles and supplementing the "Federal Clean Air Mandate Compliance Act," P.L.1995, c.112.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. The Legislature finds and declares that this State is preparing to implement an Enhanced Motor Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program, which represents a radical departure from its traditional motor vehicle inspection system. It has been estimated that implementation of this new and controversial program, based on requirements of the federal Clean Air Act, will cost the State upwards of $100 million. At the same time, this program's stringent emission standards and highly complex testing system could result in significant inconvenience and higher vehicle repair costs for the motoring public.
The Legislature further finds and declares that even as the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reviews bids from private contractors hoping to operate the proposed inspection system, troubling questions have been raised about whether the system being readied for implementation is feasible. A study performed by the New Jersey Institute of Technology indicates that serious flaws in equipment and procedures exist in the system prototype being tested at DMV's Wayne inspection facility. These flaws include the inability of dynamometers to properly test four-wheel drive vehicles or those with traction control; a perception by inspection personnel that certain vehicles become unstable when subjected to testing; the inability of some vehicles to maintain the test speeds within required tolerances; tailpipe emissions distorted by helium concurrently being used in another test; the failure to isolate results from tests that are meant to be conducted independently; and various equipment and procedural shortcomings that add to the time and complexity of the inspection process.
The Legislature further finds and declares that the problems being encountered at the DMV test site clearly indicate that this inspection system is far from ready for operation by a private contractor. To impose such a flawed system upon the unsuspecting vehicle owners of this State would be an act of folly. It is incumbent upon the members of this Legislature, as the elected representatives of the motoring public, to ensure that any inspection system is fully tested and free of major problems before sanctioning its full-scale implementation. The Legislature determines, therefore, that a private contractor should be selected to provide inspection services only after it has demonstrated its ability to provide those services effectively in a real-world environment, and that these services can be provided in the most cost-effective and efficient manner through the competitive efforts of two or more contractors.
2. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a contract or contracts for the operation of official motor vehicle inspection facilities entered into pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1995, c.112 (C.39:8-44) shall be governed by the provisions of this supplemental act.
3. a. The director shall establish a one-year pilot inspection program in which all bidders for a contract to operate an official inspection facility shall be required to participate as a precondition to being considered for selection as a contractor. The purpose of this program shall be to provide a practical demonstration under actual working conditions of the feasibility and effectiveness of proposed inspection systems.
b. The program shall require a bidder to operate a pilot inspection lane at a State inspection agency for a minimum period of one year. The director shall inform prospective contractors of this requirement and bids for contracts shall contain a plan for operation of a pilot inspection lane.
c. Pilot inspection lanes shall be operated in a manner approved by the director and shall be staffed by Division of Motor Vehicles inspection personnel. Special training required for operation of the pilot inspection lane shall be provided by the division and the bidder at the expense of the division. Emissions testing and related equipment required for the operation of the inspection lane shall meet the specifications established by the director and shall be provided, installed and maintained at the expense of the bidder. At the conclusion of the test period, successful bidders shall be responsible for purchasing, at the market price for used equipment, emissions testing and related equipment purchased by unsuccessful bidders.
d. Bidders operating pilot inspection lanes shall be paid $23 for each motor vehicle inspected from moneys deposited in the "Motor Vehicle Inspection Fund" established pursuant to subsection j. of R.S.39:8-2.
4. Operators of motor vehicles subject to biennial inspection pursuant to subsection c. of R.S.39:8-2 shall have the option of having their vehicles inspected in the pilot inspection lanes. A two-year certificate of approval shall be issued for vehicles which pass inspection in a pilot inspection lane. Vehicles which fail to pass inspection in a pilot inspection lane may, at the option of the vehicle operator, be reinspected in the pilot lane or be inspected in the regular lanes of the inspection facility, subject to the rules and regulations governing the regular inspection program.
5. To assist in the evaluation of competing testing systems, the director shall establish a protocol for systematically documenting the operation and measuring the feasibility of the pilot inspection lanes. The evaluation will determine which of the competing systems is best able to provide a cost-effective, efficient and consumer friendly statewide program for inspecting motor vehicles to comply with the enhanced inspection and maintenance requirements of the federal Clean Air Act. This determination shall include, but not be limited to, a consideration of the cost, accuracy and reliability of the tests conducted and of the equipment used to conduct the tests; the consistency and replicability of test results; the average time required to perform the tests; the ease and convenience of the testing process and the response of the motoring public to the testing system. The results of the pilot program shall be given due consideration in the awarding of motor vehicle inspection contracts under section 4 of P.L.1995, c.112 (C.39:8-44).
6. a. Contracts for the inspection of motor vehicles shall be awarded to the two most qualified bidders. These contracts shall contain incentives designed to encourage competition among contractors to carry out their assigned functions in a cost-effective and consumer-friendly manner.
b. A contractor selected to operate an inspection facility shall employ all inspection personnel employed by the division at that facility at their current salaries and with their current fringe benefits.
7. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill would impose certain conditions pertaining to the awarding of contracts for operation of the State's motor vehicle inspection system designed to ensure the effectiveness and smooth performance of that system. The bill represents a legislative response to recent well-documented reports that major problems exist in the prototype system being tested by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in compliance with requirements of the federal Clean Air Act.
The State is preparing to implement a highly complicated Enhanced Motor Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program that will require motor vehicles to comply with stringent new exhaust emission standards imposed by the federal government. With the passage of the "Federal Clean Air Mandate Compliance Act," P.L.1995, c.112, the Legislature reluctantly agreed to revamp the States inspection system and to allow its operation in whole or part by private contractors. This revamped system, if hastily implemented, could result in significant inconvenience and higher automobile maintenance and repair costs for the motoring public.
DMV has been testing prototype components of the new system at its Wayne inspection facility and is currently reviewing the bids of private contractors to operate the system. However, a recent study by the New Jersey Institute of Technology has revealed that significant problems are being encountered at the DMV testing site. These include the inability of dynamometers to properly test four-wheel drive vehicles or those with traction control; a perception by inspection personnel that certain vehicles become unstable when subjected to testing; the inability of some vehicles to maintain the test speeds within required tolerances; tailpipe emissions distorted by helium concurrently being used in another test; the failure to isolate results from tests that are meant to be conducted independently and various equipment and procedural shortcomings that add to the time and complexity of the inspection process.
The bill recognizes that the documentation of these problems makes it clear that the enhanced inspection system is not yet ready for full-scale implementation. The bill would require DMV to establish a pilot program to test the operation of inspection lanes by private contractors prior to the award of a contract. Bidders would be required to operate a pilot inspection lane for one year in a DMV inspection facility. The bidder would provide the required emissions and related equipment for operation of the inspection lane at its expense. DMV personnel would operate the pilot inspection lanes. The bidder would receive $23 for each motor vehicle inspected from moneys deposited in the "Motor Vehicle Inspection Fund" established to fund the enhanced inspection program.
Under the bill, motorists would have the option of having their vehicles inspected either in the pilot lanes operated by contract bidders or in the regular DMV inspection lanes. Two-year certificates of approval would be granted for vehicles which pass inspection in the pilot lanes as opposed to the current one-year approvals granted by DMV.
During the one-year pilot period, DMV would gather information on the bidder's operation of the lane that would be used in evaluating the bidder's contract proposal. Evaluation criteria would include the cost, accuracy and reliability of the tests conducted and of the equipment used to conduct the tests; the consistency and replicability of test results; the average time required to perform the tests; the ease and convenience of the testing process and the response of the motoring public to the testing system.
Successful bidders for inspection contracts would be required to retain current DMV inspection personnel at their current salary and benefit levels. Successful contractors also would be required to purchase inspection and related equipment purchased by unsuccessful contractors for use in a pilot inspection lane.
The bill further provides that contracts for motor vehicle inspections be granted to at least two contractors in order to foster healthy competition in providing cost-effective and consumer friendly services.
Requires bidders to demonstrate competence before granting of DMV inspection contract.