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Computer Revamp Sends Rhode Island to Court

PROVIDENCE (CN) — Taking Hewlett-Packard to court, Rhode Island officials say the computing giant is six years late on revamping the Department of Motor Vehicles computer system and now wants twice as much money.

Perhaps surprising few customers of the DMV, Rhode Island claims in a Nov. 1 lawsuit that the department's existing computer system is over 40 years old.

Rhode Island contracted with the now-defunct Saber Software Consultants on an update in 2007 and says it is still waiting on the cheekily named RIMS, short for the Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Licensing System.

HP State & Local Enterprise Service bought Saber in 2009. Abbreviated as HPE, the Illinois company is the only named defendant to the lawsuit in Providence County Superior Court.

Rhode Island says RIMS was supposed to roll out in 2010, but that there have been significant delays and corresponding amendments to the agreement.

Hewlett-Packard declined to comment on the lawsuit. "Unfortunately, there are no additional details outside the complaint that I can provide at this time," HPE spokesman Thomas Brandt said.

As laid out in the 8-page complaint, HPE President and CEO Meg Whitman announced in 2013 that she would increase the resources allocated to the project in an effort to deliver a program that "the people of Rhode Island deserve."

But Rhode Island says HPE missed the new Sept. 28, 2016, deadline too.

Some parts of RIMS are nearly complete, according to the complaint, but other areas are "far from" it.

Specifically, the interfaces that allow the DMW to communicate with third parties, including other state and federal agencies, still require substantial work before being functional, the complaint states.

To date, Rhode Island claims to have paid HP more than $13 million. It says the computer company is asking for another $12 million to cover additional work it has done and additional work it still needs to do to make RIMS fully functional.

"HPE has taken the position that it did not contract for a fully functioning RIMS system," the complaint states.

Rhode Island claims it should not have to make any more payments to HPE "because the work for which HPE demands additional payment in order to deliver a fully functional RIMS System is work for HPE is required to perform under the agreement."

In fact, Rhode Island cites one of the amendments to the contract that requires formal approval from the state for any additional work that needs to be completed.

With HPE refusing to continue working on the project until it receives more money, Rhode Island claims further delay in having a functioning system can "create immediate public safety concerns."

Without a fully operating program for the DMV, the Division of Taxation will not be able to place blocks on license registrations, and Rhode Island cannot comply with federal regulations and the Department of Justice's requirement to participate in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, according to the complaint.

Given that it would take between 18 and 24 months to find a new vendor, Rhode Island wants the court to ensure that HPE keeps working on the RIMS System.

Alleging breach of contract and bad faith, Rhode Island also wants to see HPE's records and information on the project.

The state is represented by John Tarantino of Adler, Pollock & Sheehan.

Tarantino has not returned an email seeking comment.

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