BAR chief applauds ASCCA, CAA for helping improve relations between industry and bureau
Irvine, Calif.—In Patrick Dorais’ view, a lot has been accomplished in his two years as Chief of California’s Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), overseeing licensing, enforcement, administration of the Smog Check Program and other operational matters.
In an interview with Parts & People at the 2015 ASCCA Summer Conference in Irvine, where he was keynote speaker, Dorais discussed what has transpired since he was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in November 2013, and what is in the works for the near future.
Dorais said oversight of a large organization such as BAR, with a responsibility to protect the public while supporting the automotive repair industry to create a fair marketplace, is a major challenge.
“Keeping up with advances in the automotive repair industry to update and enhance BAR programs, modernizing BAR business practices to expedite processes and mitigate fraudulent repair activity, and addressing the growth of unlicensed activity are significant subcomponents of this challenge,” he said.
To meet the challenge, Dorais said he has focused on collaboration, communication and consistency.
For example, Dorais has made it a priority to attend as many repair industry functions as possible, including ASCCA/CAA Legislative Day and local ASCCA and CAA chapter meetings. Dorais also chairs quarterly BAR Advisory Group meetings with industry representatives, including CAA and ASCCA members and Legislative Advocate Jack Molodanof.
“Attending ASCCA and CAA events has afforded me an opportunity to update members on important issues impacting BAR registrants and licensees,” he said. “I value these opportunities to connect with the automotive industry and to receive important feedback and answer questions on these issues.”
Prior to his appointment, Dorais served as BAR Deputy Chief of the Smog Check Operations, Engineering, Research Administration and Consumer Assistance Division from 2007 to 2013 and has worked in California government in some capacity since 1986, with a focus on consumer rights.
Dorais said public and industry awareness of educational resources, BAR programs and processes, industry standards and program advancements will lead to optimal protection of the public and regulation of the automotive industry.
“I believe this effort will be furthered by my extensive experience with BAR in creating open and positive relationships with consumers and industry,” he said.
BAR’s most effective means of supporting shop owners is through the regulatory process, Dorais said. BAR is currently working with the industry on several proposals to bring current regulations in line with modern business practices related to electronic documents and authorizations and Internet advertising.
“Specifically, these proposed changes will allow shops to expand their use of technology in conducting repair transactions and level the playing field for currently registered dealers by reducing unlicensed activity,” he said.
Dorais said BAR has held public workshops on both proposals to solicit input from its stakeholders. Future opportunities for public participation will be noted on BAR’s website.
“Shops should educate themselves and use resources available on the website such as the California Automotive Resource Center and various training modules to stay up to date with program requirements and fundamentals,” he said.
BAR also encourages shops to schedule a “Write It Right” presentation and to develop face-to-face relationships with their local field offices.
“My vision is for BAR to be recognized as a world leader in consumer protection through effective and balanced regulation of the automotive repair marketplace, as well as clean-air initiatives through effective and innovative administration of the Smog Check Program,” he said. “This vision requires collaboration and communication with all stakeholders and consistency in the application of BAR regulations.”
To do this, Dorais said BAR must remain focused on identifying the areas in greatest need of consumer protection, while balancing the needs and advances of the automotive industry.
Over the next year, Dorais said, his priorities will be to continue working with automotive educators to update training resources for the industry and to create greater consumer awareness of BAR programs such as the Smog Check Consumer Assistance Program and the Auto Body Inspection Program.
“I will support the Bureau’s collaborative efforts with consumer groups and the automotive repair industry, including the BAR Advisory Group, and strengthen partnerships with other government agencies to combat unlicensed activity,” he said. “I will also strive to continuously improve the Bureau’s enforcement activities and licensing operations to ensure they are carried out in a timely and efficient manner.”
Dorais made a point of commending the various automotive associations for their ongoing efforts to educate and advocate for the automotive repair industry.
“These efforts enhance professionalism within the industry and inspire customer trust, he said.