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After cancelling troubled $75 million computer upgrade contract, DMV evaluating next steps

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
State Government
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The Department of Motor Vehicles is taking a 120-day pause to figure out next steps on its long-planned computer system upgrade after ending a pricey contract in January that a scathing state audit found was six months behind schedule.

DMV Director Terri Albertson told state lawmakers on Wednesday during an Interim Finance Committee that the department was taking the time in order to “reassess and reevaluate” the department’s path forward, after it dropped a $75 million contract with technology firm Tech Mahindra to upgrade the department’s 20-year-old computer system.

Albertson told lawmakers that some of the options on the table included contracting with Arizona’s DMV, finding another contractor or doing the upgrade in-house. She told lawmakers that despite the delay, the department still hoped to complete the project by 2020 and come in under budget.

“It is our intention, regardless of path forward, that we will not ask this body for additional authority for the system modernization project,” she said.

A state audit report released in January 2018 revealed several months of delays and shortfalls in the first year of the multimillion dollar contract with technology company Tech Mahindra, including understaffing and producing documents and communications deemed not proficient in the English language. At an audit meeting that month, Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison asked the department to drop the contract and called it a “big bait and switch.”

Although the audit was completed in 2017, Albertson said that the contractor had not significantly improved their performance, leading them to dump the contract in January.

“Numerous tasks were late or had not been started, and numerous issues were listed that had been addressed repeatedly with the vendor, but still not resolved,” she said.

Funding for the contract comes out of a $1 “technology fee” assessed on all DMV transactions that state lawmakers approved in 2015 as part of a $114 million system upgrade. The DMV’s computer system runs on a mix of antiquated programming including PowerBuilder and COBOL, which has been criticized as difficult to use and upgrade.

Albertson told lawmakers that she would be back to the committee in June to request funding for the modernization project be rolled into the next fiscal year, and would update lawmakers on the department’s plan going forward.

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