Out with old, in with new: The DMV moves to modern computer system

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As you may have heard, the R.I. Division of Motor Vehicles is transitioning to a new computer system throughout July. This new system is called “RIMS.” As I’ve shared the RIMS news, one of the common questions I’ve received is: “Why?” And while the development and implementation of this new computer system is complex, the reason it’s needed is simple: Rhode Islanders deserve it.

The existing DMV technology infrastructure is more than 40 years old. It predates home computers, cell phones and the internet. As such, this legacy system was never intended to support the modern-day transactions – needs or number – of our citizens. The R.I. DMV affects nearly every Rhode Islander, from IDs and registrations, to court and taxation requisitions. There are 68 agencies that tie into the DMV computer system to provide services to Rhode Islanders. As technology and services have advanced, this critical infrastructure of the DMV and the state has not.

One of the most looming examples is Rhode Island’s enforcement of the Homeland Security REAL ID program. Enabling information to be shared domestically and abroad in real-time, all states are required to adhere to READ ID standards by 2020.

The current infrastructure is also not compatible to the innovative customer service opportunities that we wish to pursue at the DMV, such as self-service kiosks, mobile unites, and advanced online services – all with the goal of providing faster and more-accessible services.

A new and modern infrastructure is required to accomplish these goals and many others. The hard and fast fact is that the system needs to be replaced. The State of Rhode Island can no longer put off this need. It is our commitment to see RIMS come to fruition.

However, we also want to be clear to manage expectations. The system replacement is not an easy task. There are millions of data elements stored in the system that need to be transferred and nearly 200 division workers who need to be trained to use it. We are currently conducting database cleanup, system resting and staff and user training. To facilitate training, we have temporarily closed the Wakefield DMV branch as of May 22.

We have carefully considered the impact that the new computer system transition will have on all Rhode Islanders. We have taken measures to reduce the disruption of DMV services wherever possible. Online transactions such as license and registration renewals at www.dmv.ri.gov are available with no credit card or eCheck direct bank account withdrawal fees. Mail-in transactions will continue to be accepted. Also, all Rhode Island AAA locations will temporarily provide certain DMV services to their members, as well as to nonmembers.

Normal DMV operations will continue until the end of business on Friday, June 30. At that time, all DMV offices will be closed for transition onto the new system. Online transactions and those at AAA locations will also be unavailable. On July 5, the DMV headquarters in Cranston only will re-open using an online reservation system. Individuals without a reservation number will not be permitted to conduct DMV transactions. Also beginning July 5, online services will become available starting at noon. DMV services will resume at select AAA locations on July 10 with additional AAA locations and all DMV branches re-opening on a rolling basis through July 18. Please continue to visit www. Dmv.ri.gov for the latest updates on branch closings and services.

During this transition time, we do anticipate longer than normal wait times. We encourage all Rhode Islanders to complete their DMV transaction needs prior to the launch of the new system. This will help to reduce demand during the transition period. As a reminder, individuals with expiring licenses or registrations are able to renew those credentials 60 days in advance.

Our hope is to return to normal operations in the coming months as our DMV employees and partners adapt to the new system and we catch up on any backlog. Looking ahead, we believe the new system’s modern and customer-centric features will enable more streamlined service and additional service opportunities.

We are confident in RIMS and its capabilities. We have worked with many DMV employees and partners to understand their needs in serving our customers and to help develop the functionality of the new system. We can say on our behalf as well as theirs, we are all looking forward to this new system coming online. The new DMV computer system is a critical tool in enabling our state to provide modern and efficient services to its businesses and citizens and to moving Rhode Island forward into the opportunities of the 21st century.

Thank you for your support and, knowingly, your patience as we transition into this new opportunity.

Bud Craddock is the Administrator of the R.I. Division of Motor Vehicles.

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