2017-10-05 / Opinion

DMV Computer System Upgrade a Success

By Louis P. DiPalma

Rhode Islanders should take pride in our new, modern motor vehicle computer system. While it has been a long time in the making, and it has not been without its trials and tribulations, the Rhode Island Motor Vehicle System, or RIMS, has been a striking success, particularly when compared to similar projects around the country.

The RIMS contract was initially awarded to Saber Corporation in 2008. EDS acquired Saber, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) subsequently acquired EDS. Then, most recently, HPE transitioned the project to its newly formed company, DXC Technology. Rhode Island persevered through these many acquisitions and delays to emerge with a product that will serve the citizenry well.

As the chairman of the Special Senate Commission to Study the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which produced its report in 2013, I have continued to pay close attention and remain vigilant regarding the status of the RIMS. During the period of time from when the RIMS contract was initially awarded until its successful “go live” on July 5, 2017, many states have either completely or partially terminated their DMV computer system overhaul. These states include Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, California, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey and New Mexico. While the cost to Rhode Island has increased since the initial award to Saber, rising to about $20 million, it is my professional opinion that the real value for the system is well in excess of $40 million. Our RIMS system was completed at a significantly lower cost when compared to the national average cost of DMV system modernization efforts. Analysis of media reports suggests that the cost of the RIMS project was nearly 66 percent less than the national average cost of similar projects with publicly reported expenditures ($20.5 million compared to $62.4 million).

In fact, upon review of the number of states which have attempted upgrades of the motor vehicle computer systems, our implementation was a rare success on the national stage. Analysis suggests that of those attempted prior to 2016, only about half of DMV modernization efforts in the U.S. progressed without being terminated, which often resulted in millions of dollars in sunk costs with no salvageable or tangible value to the respective state.

RIMS is the one computer system which impacts the largest number of Rhode Islanders, handling approximately 934,000 registrations, 745,000 licenses, 235 different transaction types, 1.4 million transactions annually and 73 interfaces managed between the DMV and 3rd parties.

While the project took longer and cost more than originally planned, we Rhode Islanders have much of which to be proud. I am grateful to Gov. Gina Raimondo for her leadership, which was critical and essential to getting the project over the goal line. Much thanks also goes to Director of Revenue Robert Hull for the exercise of his acute business acumen, and to DMV Administrator Walter “Bud” Craddock and his senior staff for their day-to-day project oversight. Most especially I want to thank the numerous DMV employees, customer service representatives and supervisors for their years of dedicated and tireless efforts. Finally, I want to publicly acknowledge the previous DMV Administrator, Anthony Silva, who was a stalwart with the RIMS project. The exemplary efforts of these public officials have and certainly will continue to pay dividends for many, many years to come.

RIMS is a bright spotlight for computer system modernization. Rhode Island stands in a league of its own.

Louis P. DiPalma is a Democrat representing District 12 (Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton) in the state Senate. He is First Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and Chairman of the former Special Senate Commission to Study the DMV.

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