- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The private vendor that designed a major upgrade of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles’ aging computer system is committed to making sure all the “bugs” are fixed, the interim commissioner assured state lawmakers on Friday.

Dennis Murphy, who was appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to temporarily run the agency, told the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee that 3M has “committed to us very directly, from a high level, they’re going to make this work. We’re going to hold their feet to the fire to make the system work.”

Friday was Murphy’s fourth day on the job.

The DMV has been plagued by long wait times, erroneous vehicle registration cancelations and other problems since the upgrade was launched last summer. Some legislators said they have received numerous complaints from constituents and questioned whether 3M should be replaced with another vendor.

Rep. Tony Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, the committee’s co-chairman, asked whether the state has been “sold a bill of goods.”

Murphy said he has been briefed on the situation and believes the computer system “basically works.” The DMV originally began the complicated process in 2006 of upgrading its computers to allow customers to conduct more transactions online.

“We’ve got to fix the bugs that occur when you bump into some realities that it simply was not contemplated for,” Murphy told lawmakers, adding how the state is currently in the second phase of a three-phase contract with the vendor.

Murphy said DMV won’t sign off on the second phase of work until all those bugs are fixed. He wouldn’t provide a specific date on when that might happen, predicting it could take months. Once the glitches are fixed, Murphy said 3M’s one-year warranty of the computer upgrade work begins.

Meanwhile, Murphy said DMV customers have seen some recent improvements. Wait times for service at DMV branch offices averaged two hours and 41 minutes in August. He said that dropped to 43 minutes on average in January.

Murphy said it also appears more people are using DMV’s online services, which could help reduce wait times. In September, 56 percent of transactions that could be conducted online were done online. That percentage increased to 68 percent in January, Murphy said.

Malloy has proposed legislation this session that he contends will further help reduce wait times. The Democrat’s bill would allow DMV to enter into contracts with private contractors, such as AAA, to provide vehicle registration services. Currently, AAA is allowed to handle driver’s license renewals, with the exception of commercial driver’s licenses.

Malloy also wants to eliminate the current ban on issuing registrations for motor vehicles and other vehicles, such as snowmobiles, that are subject to unpaid parking tickets or property taxes. Malloy said the current system exacerbates the long waiting periods in DMV offices.

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