Long-awaited DMV computer upgrade delayed again

Photo: Gloria So/WPRI 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As state officials deal with the fallout of the troubled launch of its new benefits eligibility system, another IT project that’s been in the works even longer has been delayed once again.

A lot has changed since 1983, but not the computer system installed at the Department of Motor Vehicles in an effort to modernize.

Former Gov. Don Carcieri set his sights on a fresh start in 2006 and began working with Hewlett-Packard. The new software was supposed to be booted up in 2010 at a cost of more than $8 million, but the state rolled right past that deadline.

Eyewitness News reported in 2013 when the state made a new contract with HP to have the new system launched by May 2014. In March of 2014, we reported that the cost had doubled and the launch date was pushed back again because there were too many issues.

The following year, WPRI.com reporter Ted Nesi spoke with Thomas Guertion, who was hired specifically to keep this and other big projects on track.

“For $16.5 million we’re getting a system that is now modern and supportable,” Guertin, the state’s Chief Digital Officer, stated.

Guertin said they were very confident the system would finally be ready last month, but it was again delayed until December. Now, it’s been pushed back until June of next year to continue testing and to hire and train more employees.

“We have to get it right, so I don’t want to roll it out before it’s ready,” Gov. Gina Raimondo said Friday. “We’re learning how hard it is to do it implementations.”

According to Raimondo, the project will be worth the very long wait.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “Which is shorter wait times and being able to do things online instead of having to go into the office.”

Raimondo said the delay will also impact the creation of new state license plates.

It was also revealed on Friday that more than 12,500 Rhode Islanders who registered to vote or updated their voter information through the DMV had their party affiliation changed to “unaffiliated” due to a computer glitch.