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Lamont Goes Corporate with DMV Choice: Bongi Magubane

Bongi Magubane. Connecticut Public Radio photo, courtesy of CTMirror.com

Gov. Ned Lamont has appointed a former IT executive as DMV commissioner, with plans to prioritize convenience in a department that has become known for long lines and complicated processes.

By Mark Pazniokas, CTMirror.org

Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday named Sibongile “Bongi” Magubane, a former information-technology executive at Aetna, as the commissioner of motor vehicles, the department that Lamont once described as a metaphor for what is wrong with government bureaucracy.

“For many residents, the DMV is the face of state government – it is an office that virtually every adult needs to interact with and for far too long it has been overly bureaucratic, arduous, and – quite frankly – operating in the 21st century while relying on 20th century processes,” Lamont said.

The appointment reflects two commitments by Lamont, a former cable entrepreneur with an MBA from Yale: an emphasis on providing residents better online access to their state government, and a commitment to diversity. Magubane, a native of South Africa raised and educated in Connecticut, is the fourth commissioner named since Friday morning. Three are black and one is Hispanic.

Earlier, Lamont nominated a former IBM executive and tech entrepreneur, Josh Geballe, to oversee the Department of Administrative Services, the agency responsible for hiring, contracting and information technology.

Magubane is currently the human relations director for Specialty Transportation, the bus contractor for the public schools in Hartford. But she spent much of her career at Aetna, first from 1979 to 1994, and then from 2000 to 2011.

In addition to Aetna, Magubane worked as a consultant for the information technology company, Keane, between 1998 to 2000 and at Cigna from 1994 to 1998, where the administration says her duties included “maintaining and enhancing capabilities across the company’s billing, banking, and eligibility shared service functions.”

She lives in Hartford, where she recently stepped down as the president of the West End Civic Association.

Three years ago, computer malfunctions and widespread complaints prompted Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to hire Judeen Wrinn, a retired Aetna corporate executive with experience fixing customer service systems, as a trouble-shooter at the DMV. The department has made progress, with wait times dropping from 76 minutes in November 2015 to 41 minutes in December 2017. But the DMV was an issue during the 2018 gubernatorial campaign, with Republicans calling for its privatization.

Lamont took his own shots at the department while campaigning: “You walk into DMV a Democrat, you leave a Republican.”

On Thursday, he said in a statement that Magubane would bring a new approach.

“We need a fresh approach with this agency – one that prioritizes convenience, ease, and reliability for customers, while also delivering efficiency and cost effectiveness for its administrative needs,” Lamont said. “Bongi has earned a reputation for doing exactly those things for some of our nation’s leading private sector companies. She’s a sharp, solutions-oriented thinker with a strong business acumen who will bring to state government an innovative approach that works to cut red tape and brings to the DMV the solutions that so many residents of our state are demanding.”

Nearly 40 percent of the governor’s department heads are minorities. Lamont has now nominated 14 new department heads and retained 10 commissioners from the Malloy administration. Five of the 14 new appointees are black and one is Hispanic. Of 10 holdovers, two are black and one is Hispanic.

He has yet to nominate leaders for the departments of Social Services and Agriculture. The vacant post of state education commissioner is an indirect appointment, made through the state Board of Education.

Reprinted with permission of The Connecticut Mirror. The author can be reached at [email protected].

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