By Associated Press - Monday, February 16, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A falling out with the contractor hired to overhaul Minnesota’s driver’s license and vehicle registration system has inflated the cost of the long-awaited project.

The state hired Hewlett-Packard Co., a massive technology company that had worked on more than 20 similar projects, in 2012 to update its 30-year-old system. The idea was to simplify and automate data collection, match up driver and vehicle records and streamline the whole process. The project had a $48 million price tag.

But the state’s technology branch took over the project last year after relations with technology company soured - an external audit found there was a “culture of distrust” between the state and the company. The state had already paid Hewlett-Packard $16 million at the time of its termination.

The Star Tribune ( ) reported the project could now cost up to $93 million. And it likely won’t be done until 2018.

Lawmakers in 2008 added a new fee on license and car registration transactions to fund the upgrade. Some expressed outrage at the growing costs with little progress to show for it.

“We spent $36 million and we don’t have a working system yet?” Rep. Mark Uglem, a Champlin Republican, asked incredulously at a transportation panel hearing last week.

Dawn Olson, the state’s project manager, defended the split with Hewlett-Packard. The company missed several deadlines on the project, she said.

In a statement, William Ritz, a spokesman for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services, said the company understands the needs of clients “sometimes change over time.”

“We feel we’re in a different position to move forward,” Olson said of their new partnership with MN.IT Services, the state’s technology agency. “This project is in a good place.”


Information from: Star Tribune,

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