New Secretary of State mobile office saves tax dollars

A "new" Secretary of State mobile office will travel across Michigan to serve residents, but with fewer costs and greater portability, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced recently.

The mobile office features all the services of a standard branch office and can be used at special events or as a temporary substitute when a branch is closed for remodeling.

Its first official trip is taking place now until June 23 at 970 N. Van Dyke Road in Bad Axe, where it is serving customers while the nearby branch office undergoes renovations.

The original Secretary of State mobile office was commissioned in July 1997 and logged more than 130,000 miles. When it required significant repairs in order to continue operation, SOS officials decided to use a more nimble, less expensive alternative.

"The old mobile office had served the state well for many years but was due for replacement," said Johnson. "With a little thriftiness and innovation, we were able to find a common-sense solution that saves tax dollars and gives us an office that can be placed in a wider variety of convenient locations."

A trailer for the new mobile office was acquired at no additional cost. It was used previously by another department and had been left to collect dust in a state motor pool warehouse. Secretary of State staff discovered it and refurbished it themselves. The staff transferred the camera, printers, modem and supplies from the old office to the new one. New laptop computers were among the only new equipment purchased. It is estimated the Secretary of State's Office saved more than $75,000 by equipping the smaller, used trailer rather than purchasing an identical replacement for the old office.

The new office is contained on four, easy-to-use carts that are rolled out of a 14-foot-by-7-foot trailer and then assembled as a customer service counter with all the necessary equipment and data connections. It replaces the old office, which was a 24-foot-long modified recreational camper trailer that customers would enter to do business.

Because of the weight of the old mobile office, the driver pulling it needed to have a Commercial Driver License. The new office is much smaller and lighter, can be pulled by a driver with a valid operator's license and is portable enough that it can be housed indoors in municipal buildings or businesses, or set up outdoors for festivals and other events.

The Secretary of State's Office will continue using the 11-year-old, diesel-operated Ford F-450 truck that pulled the old mobile office, although the new lighter office can be pulled by any truck or van with a trailer hitch to save even more on fuel.

For more information about office locations and services, visit the Secretary of State website, www.Michigan.gov/sos, or sign up for the official Secretary of State Twitter feed, www.twitter.com/Michsos, or Facebook updates, www.facebook.com/Michigansos.

Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer-service representative at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).

Published: Tue, Jun 21, 2011

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