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Wyoming Agencies Work to Update 30-Year-Old Statewide System

Wyoming Department of Transportation estimates the cost to replace the Revenue Information System at around $68 million over the next decade. State agencies are in the initial phases of weighing all of the options.

Wyoming lawmakers have a decision to make: either keep a 30-year-old computer system running code designed in 1959 or shell out millions for an upgrade.

The Revenue Information System (RIS) holds data such as voter registration, driver records and license information and its operating system is COBOL, which was most recently updated in 2014. The Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Interim Committee heard from state leaders about the outdated system earlier this month in Gillette, Wyo.

Representatives from the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) gave an estimate of $68 million to install a new system and train staff over 10 years. Currently, the state spends $1.3 million annually to maintain RIS due to a lack of COBOL expertise among personnel.

WYDOT is working with the Wyoming Department of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) to identify which agencies within the state use the RIS, such as county clerk offices handling voter registration. Both departments are also looking at other antiquated computer systems statewide that could be upgraded with a RIS replacement. The two entities will explore whether Wyoming should buy a successor to the RIS from a private company or build one in house.

Chief Information Officer Gordon Knopp, who heads ETS, said the collaboration with WYDOT is still in its infancy.

“We are in the initial phases of looking into the current system and options, so I am unable to answer the questions [Government Technology] have proposed at this time,” Knopp said. “Perhaps later this fall we will know more …”

Knopp told the committee that while designing an in-house system would reduce the approximated $68 million cost, it comes with its own set of challenges. Ensuring there is continued institutional knowledge and the upkeep of the program are two potential problems Knopp listed to the committee.

Committee members discussed a few options to fund a replacement to the system. The state could pay for the new system out of the general fund with the cost spread across the budget allocations for the agencies using RIS, which would reduce the overall toll. Lawmakers also talked about the possibility of increasing fees for car registrations and driver's license renewals or charging entities using the replacement to the RIS.

Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.
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