No timetable set for fixing critical bugs in DMV computer system : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


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October 06, 1999

No timetable set for fixing 'critical bugs' in DMV computer system


CARSON CITY -- Officials told a legislative subcommittee Tuesday they don't know when they will complete fixing 300 "critical bugs" in the new state motor vehicle computer system that has spawned long lines, resulted in overcharges to customers and caused some businesses to lose money.

Ginny Lewis, deputy director of the state Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety, and Jon Lemelin of Deloitte & Touche, which designed the system, were quizzed for more than two hours about Genesis but could not present a timetable when crisis mode would be over.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kenny Guinn will hold news conferences Thursday in Las Vegas and Reno to release details of his plan "to help remedy the problems" in the new $25 million system, which came online one month ago. Guinn is going to order a 30-day grace period for motorists who don't get their registration renewals on time.

Guinn's press secretary, Jack Finn, said today the Nevada Highway Patrol will not cite anybody with an out-of-date registration because of the computer snafu. Finn said the governor doesn't have authority over other police agencies but hopes they will follow the suit in giving motorists some breathing room until the state fixes the problems.

Other details of Guinn's plan are still being worked out, Finn said.

Assemblyman Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, chairman of the subcommittee on Genesis, said it will "have to wait to see what direction he (Guinn) is taking." His subcommittee, he said, is only a fact-finding body, but it suggested the department return to the old computer system until the bugs are fixed.

Lewis rejected the suggestion and said some new procedures going into effect immediately should ease some of the long lines in Las Vegas. And she said another improvement should speed up the handling of the backlog of mail-in registrations.

Starting Wednesday, those people in line at Las Vegas offices will be asked if they have a simple transactions -- renewal of a drivers license or a car registration or a change of address. They will then be directed to another line, which should take care these procedures quickly.

Others with the more complicated transactions will still face long waits.

Lewis and Lemelin also said that this week, a new computer "express screen" will be in use at the Carson City office to process the rising backlog of mail-in registrations.

Before the system started, the backlog of mail-in motor vehicle registrations was 12,000. They were processed in five to seven days. It has now ballooned to 56,000 with Genesis with the delays of a month or more. Lewis said the addition of 15 more people could help cure this problem.

Since the system went online, there have been 1,926 bugs reported, but Lewis said 66 percent of them are fixed. "This is a good indication we are addressing the issue."

But Beers said there were no "critical" malfunctions detected when the system started and now there are 250-300 problems that must be solved. Lewis and Lemelin said more malfunctions are being fixed than are cropping up again. But they had no estimate when the problems would quiet down.

Beers suggested the agency return temporarily to the old computer system called Legacy until the "staggering problems" are cured. And Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, hinted that the state should try to collect some of the $8 million performance bond posted to ensure the system worked properly.

Lewis replied, "There is now reason to consider going down that path. We are working through the problems. The contractor is not going to leave until the critical bugs are taken care."

When she said, "The system is working," there was laughter in the audience at the meeting, which was held in Las Vegas and televised to Carson City.

Assemblywoman Vonne Chowning, D-North Las Vegas, said, "We're 60 percent worse than a year ago. I keep hearing more and more delays. When is the customer going to get service?"

Lewis said, "I can't give you a date."

Besides the long lines and the delays in processing mail-in registrations and auto title transfers, there have been overcharges to motorists on their privilege tax. Lewis said the problem with overcharges should be fixed by today. And when the system returns to normal, there will be refunds.

Some motorists have had their vehicle registrations suspended because they have no insurance, when they do have coverage. Lauren House, representing the Nevada Independent Insurance Agents, told reporters license plates had been yanked because of the erroneous information.

He suggested that until the system is fixed, the insurance verification program should be suspended.

The state agency is working on new innovations, even while it is trying to cure the present problems. Lewis said she hopes that Internet transactions, such as renewing motor vehicle registration and drivers licenses with credit cards, could be ready by June. She said planning is going forward on telephone transaction service.

And there are plans to allow car owners to register their vehicles in Las Vegas and Reno when they get their annual smog inspections. "We want to accelerate this technology this fiscal year," Lewis said.

The committee heard from citizens who were losing money because of the snafu in the registration and title procedures.

Brent and Sonja Pack, who own Motor Vehicle Title Service in Carson City, told the committee the DMV employees received little training. The Packs, whose business takes care the business of registering a vehicle for the owner or dealers, said the backlog "is costing us money."

"The (car) dealers are not getting their paychecks, and I'm not getting a paycheck," Sonja told the subcommittee. "But it's not costing them (the state employees) anything." She complained the new system will never be as fast as the former computer program.

Robert Smith, owner of a towing company in Reno, said his business performs lien sales on abandoned vehicles. That's about one-third of his business. But the logjam in processing the titles is going to hurt business. "A number of companies depend on this business," he said.

There also were complaints that people had submitted their car renewal forms in time, but the paper work has never been processed. Now they are driving around with expired plates. Lewis said the department has been issuing temporary registrations or a 10-day renewal to help motorists through the delays.

-- Homer Beanfang (, October 07, 1999

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