R.I. DMV prepares to launch new computer system

ROBERT S. HULL, director, R.I. Department of Revenue, said the state is preparing a methodical launch of its new computer system for the DMV./ PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO/ PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
ROBERT S. HULL, director, R.I. Department of Revenue, said the state is preparing a methodical launch of its new computer system for the DMV./ PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

Updated at 3 p.m.

CRANSTON – The state is preparing to launch a new computer system to replace the 40-year-old mainframe at the Department of Motor Vehicles, with Wednesday, July 5 as the initial date for a soft-launch that will allow branch locations to phase in the new system over a period of several weeks.

Employees will receive six days of training on the new system, which began in phases on May 15. This will require the temporary closure of the Wakefield branch location, to allow its employees to be trained and then reassigned to other branches to allow those employees to receive training. Wakefield will remain closed, for all services except road tests, from May 22 through July 17.

The rollout of the state’s new Windows-based system on July 5 will take place over six days at the Cranston offices only. All other branch locations will be closed for that period, and customers will be expected to make online reservations for a time when they can arrive.

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The system will then be rolled out at the next-busiest offices, in Woonsocket and Middletown.

The gradual adoption of the new technology is designed to allow state employees and supervisors to oversee the rollout, and make sure the transition is handled smoothly, according to Robert Hull, director of the R.I. Division of Revenue and Walter R. ‘Bud’ Craddock, administrator for the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles.

The timing, in July, coincides with an ebb in activity for state registration, license renewals and other services provided by the DMV. In all, the division provides more than 200 different services.

Initially, the adoption of the new system is expected to result in longer wait times than is now typical, but by September, those averages should be dropping, Hull said.

Administrators recommend that people who have licenses, registrations or other service needs to renew well in advance of the expiration date.

“By the time we get to September, we’ll start to work our way below the average transaction times,” he said.

Now, each of its services is handled by a mainframe that dates to the 1980s, and uses a Cobol language first developed in the 1960s. The antiquated system, which precedes the advent of the mouse and interactivity among data sets, will be replaced with a modern Windows-based format that will allow state employees to process information more efficiently.

In future years, the state could add more online services for consumers once the new program is in place and functioning.

Mary MacDonald is a PBN staff writer.

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