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Archive for Friday, June 29, 2012

Still plagued with problems, Kansas won’t make final payment on DMV software

June 29, 2012, 11:02 a.m. Updated June 29, 2012, 2:16 p.m.

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— The state of Kansas will not pay the final 10 percent due on a new $40 million motor vehicle system until the company that installed it improves the program, which has caused long delays and lines at motor vehicle offices across the state since it was introduced in May.

The Kansas Department of Revenue notified the 3M Co. on Thursday that it needs to address problems with the system's response times, availability, breakdowns and maintenance, Donna Shelite, the state director of vehicles, told the Shawnee County Commission.

Treasurer offices in the state's 105 counties stopped handling motor vehicle registrations, driver's license applications and related business for about a week in May while the new system was installed. That caused a massive backlog when offices reopened as employees learned how to use the new system, which replaces technology installed in the mid-1980s.

The state's evaluation period for the system was supposed to end Saturday but the timeline has been changed, revenue department spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda said in an email to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

"While the State continues to work with 3M to improve the new motor vehicle system, we will not accept 3M's system until it operates according to the contractual requirements," Koranda wrote. "If the system does not conform to the contractual requirements, the State will enforce its rights under the contract and compel 3M to deliver the system that has been promised."

While the revenue department insists the delays have been reduced in most counties, Shawnee County officials disagree and have demanded more help from the state.

"I think we got their attention," said Marsha Ralston, deputy treasurer and motor vehicle officer manager for Shawnee County. "Now they can't say it's just Shawnee County."

On Friday, another widespread slowdown of the system prompted the state to extend a grace period for people whose tags were about to expire. The revenue department asked law enforcement not to issue tickets to people whose vehicle tags expire Saturday, including 30-day tags.

Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said in a news release that the slowdown prevented employees from processing as many transactions as usual. Friday was the last workday of the month, which is typically the busiest day for people who wait to renew vehicle tags until the last day of the month.

He said the system has made significant progress and handled more than 281,000 transactions in June but "problems such as the one Friday continue to sporadically interrupt counties' abilities to serve their customers."

At Thursday's meeting, Shawnee County Commissioner Mary Thomas asked Shelite to increase the number of state employees answering calls from counties. Some counties, including Wyandotte, have said they stopped calling the state for help.

"The phone staff is not as bulked up as it should be," Shelite acknowledged. She said the call center gets about 4,000 calls a day.

Counties also have paid large amounts of overtime as employees work nights and weekends to handle the backlog.

In May, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., paid $13,000 of overtime, department director Debbie Pack said. Shawnee County is "blowing its budget" on overtime as well, said Ralston, who said she can't afford to hire people to fill two open jobs.

In Johnson County, Treasurer Thomas Franzen said his county's two motor vehicle offices had nearly caught up with the backlog but employees also have been working a lot of overtime, The Kansas City Star reported Thursday.

Franzen, who was authorized to hire 16 additional people at an annual cost of $833,000, said the 3M software continues to have issues.

"It has intermittent outages," he said. "It also has problems at certain times scanning or printing or finalizing transactions."

Pack and Ralston said the main problem with the system is the number of records that have to be recreated because they were entered incorrectly in the old system.

Shelite told the commission that as many as 73,000 records didn't convert correctly to the new system, mostly because the records had been entered incorrectly in the old system and the new system won't accept bad data.

Riley County Treasurer Eileen King said the state used to fix those errors but that responsibility has been shifted to counties.

Comments

KansasLiberal 2 years, 3 months ago

The wait times are so bad in Shawnee County that they have a webcam in their hallway so you can see how long the line is. And these are just the people out in the hallway. You still have to wait in line once you get inside the office.

http://www.snco.us/treasurer/hallway_camera.asp

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jkocen 2 years, 3 months ago

I am fortunate to live in Johnson County where the county invested in software that allows us to go online and get in line. Then you receive status updates on your phone. Good thing too, since the waits are 4-5 hours for registration and 8-10 hours for a title. Thank you Nick Jordan and the State of Kansas for all you do for oh...I mean to us. Nick find a new job please.....

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MarcoPogo 2 years, 3 months ago

Whoa, looks like skinny, little Kansas got tired of the muscled guy kicking sand on him at the beach.

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nut_case 2 years, 3 months ago

Wait...you bought $40 million worth of computer software / database tracking program from '3M' ...the Scotch Tape / Post-It note people?!? Well, that just has 'success' written all over it!

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Tomato 2 years, 3 months ago

You do realize that 3M is a multi-billion dollar international conglomerate, right? It did 29,611,000,000 in sales in 2011. Their consumer and office sector accounted for only 14% of their consolidated sales.

So generally, yes - it is reasonable to expect that spending 40 millions dollars on software from 3M would have success written all over it.

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jkocen 2 years, 3 months ago

Actually you bought $25 million from 3M and the rest was for hardward need to run the system including printers and scanners that have been known to crash. The question is why did Nick Jordan and staff not impose penalties imposed in the contract? My guess is they were scared 3M would pack up their sticky notes and go home and KS would be left in a deeper mess. My hope is 3M hires Nick Jordan and Donna Shelite so they can have our best talent to help them with other states wanting to use their software,

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hooligan01 2 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, post on here about how 3M only makes tape... Wow, you sure do know a lot...NOT. If you spent a little time checking facts instead of just commentting, think of how much you would know.

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clovis_sangrail 2 years, 3 months ago

"Shelite told the commission that as many as 73,000 records didn't convert correctly to the new system, mostly because the records had been entered incorrectly in the old system and the new system won't accept bad data."

Project Management 101 -- Clean that crap up before you try to stuff it into the new system

It looks like in addition to significant infrastructure problems, there is a boatload of data problems, too.

Some people need to lose jobs. This beast should never have been taken live in this condition.

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love2fish_ks 2 years, 3 months ago

Got to make you feel good that no one has been fired over this.

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Kate Rogge 2 years, 3 months ago

It was taken live because Kobach and the Kochs want to restrict voters in November.

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james bush 2 years, 3 months ago

Gotta luv the expression on Norfolk's face.

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DaBellaDaBall 2 years, 3 months ago

Easy to believe in Kansas. Here's why:

The KS DOR can't afford to hire IT people who are bright enough to deal with this sort of a project, whether it be to assess viability, determine an appropriate scope and approach, manage the project or sniff out show-stopping problems. Why can't the DOR afford such people? Because "state employees get paid too much!" In other words, this is what happens when you view government employees as a bunch of fat hogs feeding at the public trough. You pay sub-optimal salaries as compared to private industry (because the legislature and the executive branch are stuck in their right-wing dogma and won't properly fund this and other state agencies). These salaries attract only the lowest tier of IT people. Then, you complain when public services stink. Look, you can't have both good government services and poorly compensated government employees. You get what you pay for. You also get what you vote for. Frankly, although a life-long Kansan, I think Kansans are getting exactly what they deserve when they sleep-walk into voting booths and hand over the reins to idiots like Brownshirt.

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OzChicklet 2 years, 3 months ago

How is it 3M's problem that bad data was entered over the past 30 years? What sort of sample data was provided to 3M? Did 3M examine the sample data? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before the finger pointing starts - and seriously, do you think any of those questions will be answered to the general public in this forum?

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thelonious 2 years, 3 months ago

You either don't know what you are talking about or you are a shill for 3M or, more likely, a shill for the Brownback "Administration". Get a grip - the problems go way, way beyond "bad data". Of course there is some bad data - but I am getting really tired of seeing that excuse trotted out as a red herring for the problems. This project was fubar'd, and is a prima facie example of why it is NOT necessarily better to outsource public services. Would have been far better to have left the exisitng system in place...just what, again, was wrong with it?

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thelonious 2 years, 3 months ago

BTW, I am glad to see they are withholding the final payment, which I suggested they do a couple of days ago on these boards...not that they listen to me! :-) But it is the right thing to do...it may be only 10% of the contract amount, but they might as well use whatever leverage they have left.

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Kate Rogge 2 years, 3 months ago

No responsible company takes a new system live with this many problems unless the client demands it. Kansas government wants it up and the hour long delays are just what they want to discourage those who seek voter IDs.

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Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 3 months ago

rvjayhawk, you are completely right. This should all have been assessed before the contract was given. This is more than ridiculous. Kansas should pay each person who waited in line for hours, as well. I would guess a class-action suit might well be appropriate.

This kind of thing is happening all over the country. Huge companies are taking on jobs that they then have to hire contractors for. They have no idea what is going on, and the state shouldn't have to pay for it.

Look at the losses of data - your and my data, social security cards, credit card numbers, in the past year.

This has got to change, or no one will be ordering from the Internet soon (which will be good, as far as I am concerned, because local businesses are often better - if they have survived).

But when it comes to government business, health care records, this can not be continued like this. And when it comes to Brownback's administration, it has a a great role in all this.

When will the people of Kansas wake up and vote - or recall - these people from office?

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jafs 2 years, 3 months ago

And yet, Medicare recipients are the most satisfied with their health care, according to a recent poll.

And, I've never had much of a problem at the DMV - you just have to be smart about it.

Finally, did you miss the part where this software project was given to a private company?

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RubyVrooom 2 years, 3 months ago

I went in early this morning to get my tags renewed. I would have done it online but I never got the renewal notice in the mail that contains the pin number.
The computer system was down when I got there this morning. But the guy working was very nice- he took my phone number and called me a few hours later when it was working again. When I got back the line was long and I waited forever. When I finally got to the desk he told me that the state had decided to give everyone a 15-day extension. If I'd have known that I wouldn't have waited in line. So they had me pay but for some reason they couldn't give me my sticker. Instead they gave me a copy of the press release about the extension to keep in my car, and said they'd mail the sticker later.

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love2fish_ks 2 years, 3 months ago

Why hasn't the CIO been fired? This has been going on for how long and no one has lost their job?

Lesson #3.5M on lack of accountability for government employees. Totally disgraceful that this happened, continues to happen, and no one is held to account.

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Brmstr 2 years, 3 months ago

What is not included in this article (or any other for that matter) is this IT system FIASCO is only the tip of the iceberg... The State of Kansas has spent MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars over the past 15 years to replace and/or upgrade systems for everything from DMV, Accounting/Budget Systems, Legislative Research/Statute Tracking systems, etc.

EVERY one of these has been utter failures; systems that don't include critically important aspects like budget/accounting systems that don't include a usable REPORTING function; Legislation systems that don't function for updating changes to include amendments as they are made to the respective Bill/Proposal; and those were prior to the current DMV system that is...yet again...a complete and utter FAILURE!

The strangest part is that these are not UNKNOWN among anyone that works in State Government in Kansas, State Budgeting, the Legislature and/or any media that engages these areas. WHY is there not a Report in Kansas willing and/or able to conduct the research and delve into these egregious areas of abuse of the public trust in wasting MILLIONS and MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars to only result in multiple IT systems that DO NOT WORK, yet the IT contractors are paid for these P.O.S. systems and are also charging the State for changes, maintenance and upgrades above and beyond the original contracted amounts!!!

If someone has a respectable explanation for the repeated failures of upgraded IT systems, I would be pleased to listen...

Unfortunately, I suspect that there are far too many additional systems that I have not mentioned (healthcare, environmental regulation, human resources, adult/daycare databases, dept. of revenue, Capitol Restoration, dept. of education, etc.) that have also been undertaken but resulted in similar new systems that are outright FAILURES and complete WASTES of TAX DOLLARS!!!

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Brmstr 2 years, 3 months ago

What is not included in this article (or any other for that matter) is this IT system FIASCO is only the tip of the iceberg... The State of Kansas has spent MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars over the past 15 years to replace and/or upgrade systems for everything from DMV, Accounting/Budget Systems, Legislative Research/Statute Tracking systems, etc.

EVERY one of these has been utter failures; systems that don't include critically important aspects like budget/accounting systems that don't include a usable REPORTING function; Legislation systems that don't function for updating changes to include amendments as they are made to the respective Bill/Proposal; and those were prior to the current DMV system that is...yet again...a complete and utter FAILURE!

The strangest part is that these are not UNKNOWN among anyone that works in State Government in Kansas, State Budgeting, the Legislature and/or any media that engages these areas.

WHY is there not a professional Reporter anywhere in Kansas willing and/or able to conduct the research and delve into these egregious areas of abuse of the public trust in wasting MILLIONS and MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars to only result in multiple IT systems that DO NOT WORK, yet the IT contractors are paid for these P.O.S. systems and are also charging the State for changes, maintenance and upgrades above and beyond the original contracted amounts!!!

If someone has a respectable explanation for the repeated failures of upgraded IT systems, I would be pleased to listen...

Unfortunately, I suspect that there are far too many additional systems that I have not mentioned (healthcare, environmental regulation, human resources, adult/daycare databases, dept. of revenue, Capitol Restoration, dept. of education, etc.) that have also been undertaken but resulted in similar new systems that are outright FAILURES and complete WASTES of TAX DOLLARS!!!

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ljwhirled 2 years, 3 months ago

Wow, people who don't believe in gov't can't run one effectively.? I am stunned.

Hmm, maybe I should fire the business manager who thinks my business is total crap and should be shut down.

Oh wait....I don't hire people at my business who don't believe in our products.

The voters got what they wanted, a leadership team that doesn't believe in the products they provide to the public or in the organization they are running.

Small wonder nothing is working right.

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Brian Conrad 2 years, 3 months ago

wonder if those of us affected can sue this company? this needs to stop NOW !!! go back to old system and SUE! some eggheads sit around thinking of ways to throw away millions in tax dollars ... then when it does not work.. oh well.. just like wallstreet .. the idiot that pushed for this system probably got a big bonus... sue the software fools and give the poor ladies behind the counter who had to put up with this baloney a raise!

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deskboy04 2 years, 3 months ago

Shouldn't the state executive burden some of the blame?

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