The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles will close its branches in a couple weeks to prepare for a massive computer modernization that’s way behind schedule.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters warned well over a year ago there could be big hiccups with this $26 million transition. Now the Troubleshooters are taking a closer look at what’s behind the delays and what’s still to come.
Our original story pointed out that Kansas and Montana, other states with the same DMV software Connecticut purchased, ran into serious delays when they brought the program online. While our state took great steps to avoid these issues, it did not totally dodge the bullet.
Customers at the Wethersfield DMV branch told the Troubleshooters they're sick of long lines. To that end, the DMV is in the middle of a $26-million computer modernization which will require it to shut down all its branches for five days in August.
The DMV is phasing in new software that:
- More efficiently handles dealer and repairer transactions
- Allows online registration renewals, vanity plate orders, and emission status checks
- Enables agencies like State Police to link to the software from their cruisers
- And, perhaps most important, all transactions by one person, a title, registration, or driver’s license, will be linked with a single identification number.
Of all these, so far, only dealer and repairer transactions have been modernized. The Troubleshooters first warned of potential problems with the software rollout in May of last year.
Project manager Nancy Dumais said then the agency could hit some bumps in the road, yet expressed confidence the new system would issue vehicle registrations and titles by the fall of 2014.
Nancy Dumais: I am not anticipating at this point that we will not be able to go live at the end of this year.
Len Besthoff: So you’re confident?
Nancy Dumais: I’m pretty confident. Yes.
Fast forward a year and a half and that part of the new system has still not gone live, putting the project almost two years behind schedule.
DMV Commissioner Andres Ayala says the agency will need to close its branches for a week to make that happen. The DMV already had a shutdown this past winter to train employees.
"We were anticipating that April would be the day. Hence, we shut down operations and had our folks trained on the system, and what have you, but it's simply because the system is so huge," Ayala said.
DMV customers may still not be out of the woods even after the next branch shutdown. The agency has warned lines and waits could be longer for weeks or months afterward. That is what happened in Montana and Kansas.
The driver's license portion of this modernization has yet to go online. Ayala said his staff is actually reevaluating that portion of the software to make sure "it is the correct system" since the state bought it almost six years ago.
To prepare, the DMV recommends visiting a branch before the shutdown if you have paperwork you need to do soon. The branches will remain open only for driver’s license services, both new ones and renewals.
The DMV has a number of other helpful hints and information to prepare for the shutdown on its website.