Rhode Island, HP Delay Launch of DMV's New Computer System

The state and HP need extra time to test the new system, which will replace a 1980s mainframe, and train all the workers who process vehicle transactions on how to use it.

by Patrick Anderson, The Providence Journal, R.I. / April 29, 2016
Google Street View

(TNS) -- PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island's 10-year wait at the Division of Motor Vehicles — for a modern computer system to process transactions — goes on.

The state and contractor Hewlett-Packard have again pushed back the launch date for the new system, this time by two months, Raimondo administration officials told lawmakers this week.

Work first began on the new computer system in 2006 and, after numerous false starts and setbacks, was scheduled to be up and running in September. Now the target date is December, Robert Hull, Director of the Department of Revenue said at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee.

And how solid is the new estimate that the $16.5 million project will be finished by the end of this year?

"If I said it was without risk and I had no anxiety, that would be dishonest," Hull, whose department oversees the DMV, told the committee.

The state and HP need extra time to test the new system, which will replace a 1980s mainframe, and train all the workers who process vehicle transactions on how to use it, said Thom Guertin, the state's chief digital officer who then-Gov. Lincoln Chafee designated to rescue the DMV computer project.

Asked if HP would be compensating the state for missing its latest project completion target, Guertin said that had not been determined yet.

Although two months would be a relatively short delay in the context of the DMV project, it did not sit well with Sen. Louis DiPalma, D-Middletown, who questioned whether HP was entering another spiral of missed deadlines.

"We know the end is in sight, but I am not sure how much confidence I have in December," said DiPalma, a longtime watcher of the DMV project. "If we don't make December, then we are into 2017, then it is April, then it is June."

When it is operational, the new computer system is expected to streamline operations at the DMV, reducing wait times and making more online transactions possible.

The state this year decided to delay issuing new license plates — from July to next April — at least partially to make sure the new computer system is in place.

The state has not released the new design for the license plate, which was supposed to feature Rhode Island's new tourism marketing brand.

panderson@providencejournal.com

(401) 277-7384

On Twitter: @PatrickAnderso_

———

©2016 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)

Visit The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.) at www.projo.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.