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The Anti-Car Theft Act (the Act) of 1992 entrusted responsibility to the U.S. Department of Transportation for a national information system enabling states and others to access automobile titling information. In 1996, the Act was amended, and responsibility for the oversight of the system was transferred to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The Act prescribes the ongoing responsibilities of DOJ with regard to overseeing NMVTIS' development and operation. Title 49, section 30502(b) of the United States Code, however, authorizes the Attorney General to designate an entity that represents the interests of the states to operate NMVTIS.

NMVTIS was created to:

  • Prevent the introduction or reintroduction of stolen motor vehicles into interstate commerce;
  • Protect states, consumers (both individual and commercial), and other entities from fraud;
  • Reduce the use of stolen vehicles for illicit purposes including funding of criminal enterprises; and
  • Provide consumer protection from unsafe vehicles.

In 1999, the then General Accounting Office (GAO) conducted a review of NMVTIS. The GAO report found that a life-cycle cost and benefits analysis should be conducted to determine if further federal funding of NMVTIS was warranted.

In 2001, at the request of the Department of Justice, the Logistics Management Institute (LMI) submitted a report to DOJ's National Institute of Justice, found that: “…NMVTIS-if it is fully implemented in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and if it is 100 percent effective-can achieve benefits in the range of $4 billion to $11.3 billion annually.”

In 2006, the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute, a nonprofit organization made up of technology companies and formed to provide a single voice of industry in the development of new standards and practices in the law enforcement and justice information technology world, was asked by BJA to conduct a full review of the NMVTIS system architecture to identify any technological barriers to NMVTIS implementation and to determine if any potential cost savings was available through emerging technology. The IJIS Institute report found that: “…the NMVTIS program provides an invaluable benefit to state vehicle administrators and the public community as a whole. Advantages of the program including improving the state titling process, as well as providing key information to consumers and law enforcement agencies.”