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State to finish upgrades for tag/driver license computerization

By Mary Clarkin

The Hutchinson News

(MCT) A problem-beset modernization process for Kansas' vehicle title and registration and driver licensing systems has turned a corner.

The Kansas Department of Revenue informed county treasurers Thursday that it had decided "to bring our contract with 3M to conclusion and complete the modernization work ourselves," Lisa Kaspar, director of the Division of Vehicles, wrote in an email.

"We believe this is the most efficient and cost effective way to proceed. We have the highest confidence in the skill of our own programmers and IT staff," Kaspar wrote. Kaspar said KDOR acquired the system code for the title and registration system and this week, 3M transferred to KDOR the system code for the driver licensing system.

"Converting the modernization work to a KDOR lead team will be efficient and reduces expense for Kansas," she wrote.

A modernization project was authorized in 2008 and begun in 2009. The state partnered with 3M for software and technology development after a public bid process, Kaspar recapped.

The project encountered delays and hiccups along the way.

Originally, the driver licensing system upgrade was to roll out in 2011, after the vehicle title and registration system. But the vehicle system did not roll out until 2012, and the state's focus became making that system as stable and efficient as possible before implementing the driver licensing system, according to Jeannine Koranda, public information officer for the Kansas Department of Revenue.

Kaspar said there is no "go-live date" for the driver licensing system until the department has had time to develop a new project plan.

Haskell County Treasurer Nancy Weeks welcomed the announcement that the state will be in the driver's seat.

"I think it's probably a very good thing. I mean, 3M's out of the picture now, and KDOR has the source code and now they will start to do the enhancements that we were promised to begin with, and start working to get some of the bugs out that still are a problem for us," Weeks said.

"I think it's running smoother now," she said, but not as efficiently as possible, such as an "easy renewal" process that's sometimes cumbersome.

"Hopefully, they can get stuff fixed, and this can be a system we can be proud of," Weeks said.

Kansans pay a fee when registering a vehicle that helps finance the modernization project.

The state ended the 3M contract early. The state paid $18.7 million of the original $22.2 million fixed-cost contract. The state saved $3.4 million, according to Koranda.

(c)2014 The Hutchinson News