After a rocky and extended process, the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has finally found a clear path toward improving its computer systems.
The state agency will partner with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HP) to overhaul existing programs and build a new one, simply called the Rhode Island Motor Vehicle System (RIMS). The project—which has been going on, in some form, for the past decade—is now due to wrap up by September 2016, at a final cost of $16.5 million.
What HP will bring to the new deal is some reprieve for taxpayers when it comes to taking care of the hefty project tab. In the recently signed contract, which took five months to negotiate, the computer giant agreed to contribute $3 million to the state over the next year. That’s because HP, while working for Rhode Island’s DMV in the past, was partly responsible for some of the problems that have prolonged the project’s completion.
Started in earnest in 2008, and slated for completion by 2010 for a total of $8.8 million, the project is now about 70 percent complete, according to Thom Guertin, Rhode Island’s chief digital officer, who has overseen much of the overhaul process.
Complicating the process was the fate of software company Saber Corp., which was originally contracted to complete the job. After starting the work, the business was sold several times, before eventually being bought out by HP. Rhode Island itself added to the confusion by cancelling certain payments for the project.
In the meantime, Rhode Island DMV-goers have been covering the cost of the fix, with a $1.50 technology surcharge that was added to the agency’s transactions shortly after the original contract was awarded.
Several state officials, past and present, have expressed regret for and frustration over the prolonged process and its growing expense, but with the light at the end of the tunnel now visible, many have become hopeful that the project can be finished once and for all.
“It is progressing,” said Walter “Bud” Craddock, who heads the RI DMV. “The progress is measurable. We’re all confident that it is going to get done, based on what we can see and the work that’s being done.”