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California pulls DMV system update project

8:45 PM, Feb 15, 2013   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - The $200 million effort to overhaul DMV's 40-year-old computer system that processes driver's licenses and vehicle registrations has been halted.

After seven years and $135 million taxpayer dollars, only the driver's license portion is close to getting done.

"We thought it was time to bring the project to an end because they weren't going to be able to an agreement on how to finish it out," California Technology Agency Secretary Carlos Ramos said.

The stalled DMV project is the latest in a string of high profile technology blunders that have plagued state government.

Last week, Controller John Chiang fired the contractor charged with the $400 million upgrade to the state's payroll system because it's years behind schedule, triple cost and it doesn't work.

And last year after doling out half-a billion dollars, the courts pulled the plug on the effort to electronically connect every courthouse in the state when the costs ballooned to $2 billion.

"It's ironic that California, being the birth place of the high tech industry, can't get its act together," Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. Jon Coupal said.

But the state's technology chief said the state does have successes: California is the first state to have a mobile apps store; an online voter registration system kicked off in the fall and family and friends can make reservations online to visit an inmate.

Ramos admits, though, the state may be too big for certain projects.

"Technology projects in and of themselves are pretty complex undertakings," Ramos said. "But when you take on something of the scope and scale of California, they're inherently risky."

State department heads don't make projects easy either.

"What we've heard from the private sector is the state will ask for something but then they'll change their minds later, or they're not clear on what they really want," Coupal said.

The state will be evaluating what to do next in the DMV and court projects. The Controller has said he'll sue the payroll contractor to get some of the taxpayers' money back.

By Nannette Miranda, ABC7

ABC7/KGO

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