A computerized system that trims the time and paperwork required to buy hunting and fishing licenses will be tested in Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) offices beginning Nov. 6.
Known as WILD, for Washington Interactive Licensing Database, the system is scheduled for installation in WDFW's headquarters in Olympia and regional offices in Spokane, Ephrata, Yakima, Mill Creek, Vancouver and Montesano, as well as a district office in Wenatchee.
If the trial goes smoothly, the WILD system is scheduled to be installed by March 1 at all remaining recreational license outlets, including retail dealers. The system is expected to be fully operational by the time the new recreational license cycle begins April 1. After that point, only computer-generated licenses will be available.
During the trial period, The WILD system will be used only to sell 2000 licenses to new buyers, while customers replacing or adding documents such as tags or permits to existing licenses will be served with the current, paper- based license system, said Bruce Crawford, manager of WDFW's licensing activities.
Because the WILD system is still in a trial period here, hunting and fishing licenses for the 2001 license year will not be available for sale as holiday gifts this year. Crawford said holiday gift purchases of recreational licenses will be restored next year, after the WILD system is fully up and running.
Similar to licensing systems already in place in Idaho and Oregon, the WILD system was developed through a partnership with MCI Worldcom Communications Inc.
Under the company's six-year contract, MCI is paying for all computer hardware and software to run the system, and is providing all training for some 700 license dealers. In return, MCI will collect a 9.5 percent transaction fee, approved by the Legislature and the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, on each license purchase.
When the automated system is fully operational, hunters and fishers also will have the option of buying their licenses over the phone or on the Internet.
The WILD system offers several advantages to license holders including:
- Speed– License purchases which take about 10 minutes under the current system should take two minutes or less with the WILD system.
- Convenience– Once fully operational, the WILD system will allow hunters or fishers the option of buying their licenses over the Internet or by phone.
- Accuracy– The automated system will reduce duplications and other dealer errors in making license and permit sales
In addition, by replacing hand-tallied paper license sales receipts with the computerized system, WDFW will be able to more quickly and accurately track license sales trends, collect revenues and improve enforcement efforts. Currently, it takes the department about 45 days to collect license revenues from private dealers and up to 90 days to audit sales and reconcile accounts with vendors. Under the new system, sales data will be current, and license sales revenues will be electronically collected from dealers' accounts on a weekly basis. The computerized license database is expected to reduce fraud by showing, for example, if a customer requesting a duplicate license has purchased an original license.
Among the changes hunters and fishers will encounter when they line up in front of a WILD terminal to buy their licenses is a new federal requirement that Social Security numbers be recorded as part of the license purchase process. That rule, aimed at identifying parents behind on their child support payments, took effect October 1 for a variety of state licensing activities, including driver licensing. WDFW has postponed collecting the information, however, until the new automated license system is put into operation.
To maximize citizen privacy protection in light of the new requirement, the licensing system is designed so Social Security numbers are not displayed on WILD terminal screens after the number is originally entered. In addition, there are strict requirements in the WILD system contract prohibiting the use or sale of databases containing personal data, with financial penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.