[Note: This is the fourth part of a series explaining the department’s Information Technology Transition. Ensuing articles will focus on IT modernization projects and the Information Technology governance model.]
A project to modernize the antiquated Division of Motor Vehicles computer system took a major step this week when ITD selected IBM as the solution planners.
IBM will recommend appropriate technology options for improving a range of DMV services that include vehicle registration and titling, driver’s licenses, commercial vehicles, Aeronautics and the Ports of Entry, explains project manager Shannon Barnes.
She joined ITD about two months ago to guide the new project. Barnes previously was a technology consultant in the private sector and a project manager for the Department of Health and Welfare.
“The Division of Motor Vehicles is embarking on a multi-year, phased implementation to modernize essential services provided to the citizens of Idaho,” she said. “Our strategy of ‘one person, one vehicle, one record’ focuses on public convenience and public and private partnerships as a priority.”
Planning began more than a year ago, she said, and full implementation probably is at least two or three years away. Barnes attributes early planning by Bob Schumacher – now a resident engineer in Lewiston – for creating a solid foundation for the DMV technology solution.
“Planning is the most important part of the process and should take the most time,” Barnes explains. “We need to be very diligent in planning because it’s the reason that projects succeed or fail. ITD recognizes that and is committed to the process.”
The better the planning, the more likely the project will stay within budget and on schedule, she suggests.
Estimated to exceed an investment of $30 million, the project has become a centerpiece of ITD’s Technology Transformation. It will change the way DMV interacts with licensing and titling offices in every county and dramatically improve services to all Idaho drivers.
DMV’s existing system is approaching a quarter of a century in age and has long outlived its practical expectations. Technical support for the system is not available outside ITD’s own expertise. And its age contributes to service delays at county licensing offices.
“Corporate IT has done everything possible to assure continued, uninterrupted service, but we have very old, museum-quality equipment,” Barnes explains. The system, because of ITD’s internal controls, remains secure and functional, but is no longer serving the needs of a rapidly growing state.
IBM will identify “off-the-shelf” options available and estimated costs along with providing an implementation strategy. Those recommendations are expected by December. ITD will issue a Request for Proposal to potential system vendors shortly thereafter. By contract, IBM will not submit a proposal.
Although project completion will take several years, the strategy is to incorporate major improvements about every six to eight months, Barnes explains. The first will be the introduction of computer-based knowledge tests for driver’s license applicants. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office on Barrister Drive in Boise and in Emmett will be the first to convert to computer testing.
Other important developments that will take place during the process include the use of embedded stickers for commercial vehicles and later for passenger vehicles, implementation of the REAL-ID Act, and introduction of wireless Internet at Idaho’s Ports of Entry.
ITD Director Dave Ekern is executive sponsor of the project; the executive steering committee provides oversight for the project at the strategic level. A change management team will define the options for a new DMV system at the mid-level, and individual managers have been charged with implementing seven projects that make up the DMV solution. They are:
Barnes said Iowa recently completed a similar technology upgrade and Montana has embarked on one. Several other states also are making major changes to their licensing/registration process, driven largely by the federal REAL-ID Act that is designed to improve national security.