Hearing on RI DMV lawsuit against HP ends with no ruling

Providence Superior Court

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A first hearing on the lawsuit between the state of Rhode Island and the company Hewlett Packard Enterprise on Thursday ended in no ruling from a judge, other than that the company must continue working on the lumbering DMV project.

Tuesday, the state filed a lawsuit to make HPE, as it’s known, finish the long-delayed massive upgrade to Rhode Island’s aging motor vehicle and driver registry system when the company demanded nearly $12 million more — and threatened to walk away without it.

Both sides are set to meet Thursday afternoon for mediation.

The state had gone before Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein to ask for a temporary restraining order to make sure HPE continued working on the project until at least late November. The project has already dragged on for more than a decade.

The office of Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday the governor would not be, quote, “held hostage,” by the new request for more money.

Under the 2015 contract — stating a price of $13.5 million for the entire project — the DMV computer upgrade was supposed to be done in late September 2016. It’s now pushed back to June 2017.

A spokesman for HPE has said the company has met all of its contractual obligations and the state is unwilling to pay for additional work that it wanted done.

According to the governor’s office, upgrading the DMV’s 1980s-era mainframe computer system is 98 percent complete.

The tale of how one of the world’s biggest names in computing got tasked with crafting a new department of motor vehicles computer system for Rhode Island is one of the ubiquitous corporate takeover: Saber Corp. was awarded the project in 2008, with a deadline of 2010. Saber was sold to EDS Corp., who in turn was sold to HP. The computing giant later split itself into HP Inc., which makes consumer computer hardware, and HPE, which focuses on software, equipment and services for businesses.

HPE has previously been sued for its work in other states. Michigan took action last year over a $49 million allegedly botched IT project. And in 2012, Vermont reached a settlement with HPE over that state’s DMV project.