RI sues over unpaid $1M for DMV project

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration on Tuesday took further court action against the company behind the long-delayed R.I. Division of Motor Vehicles computer project for allegedly failing to pay the state a promised $1 million.

Raimondo said Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the vendor building the notorious IT system, promised to pay the state $1 million as a form of a refund under a contract signed last year, but had yet to do so as of Tuesday morning, according to the governor’s office.

The state has already taken HPE to court for threatening to walk off the job after allegedly demanding nearly $12 million more to finish the project. A judge on Monday issued a temporary restraining order that required the company to continue working on the system as the legal process proceeds.

“At this point they have not paid us the $1 million that we’re owed, and if that’s still true by the end of the day we’re going to go back into court and sue them for the $1 million, because the contract says that’s what we’re owed, and I’m going to pursue that because we need the money,” Raimondo told reporters Tuesday morning, before the amended suit was filed.

“I think in this case HP thought they had us over a barrel,” she said. “They thought we wouldn’t fight it. And we have to fight it, because it’s millions of dollars that the taxpayers don’t have to spend on a system like this that’s not working.”

The DMV IT project has now dragged on for nearly a decade. Under the contract signed last year, the two sides indicated the project would be done by this past Sept. 28. But the administration filed suit Nov. 1 after HPE’s request for more money to finish its work; HPE has said it did nothing wrong.

An HPE spokesman said Monday afternoon, “Given this is now an ongoing legal matter, HPE has no further comment at this time.”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes The Saturday Morning Post and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram