We live in a time period where negativity, particularly toward government, has sadly become the norm. It is understandable why the public has a negative view of state government due to various missteps and mistakes that have been made. But at times, successes are overlooked and quietly fly under the radar with little fanfare or recognition. That is why the recent rollout by the Division of Motor Vehicles of the long overdue new computer system should be recognized as a prime example of something government has gotten right for the taxpayers of the state.
DMV Administrator Walter Craddock, the employees of the DMV, and Governor Raimondo and her administration should all be recognized for the seamless transition from a 40-year-old outdated computer system to the new state-of-the-art Rhode Island Modernization System (RIMS). This transition was not as easy as flipping a switch. It took massive amounts of planning, public information, partnerships with outside entities (thank you, AAA), and most importantly – the ability to execute these plans properly and efficiently.
I am thankful that all these moving pieces were implemented correctly, averting further hassles and problems for the public, to modernize our technological infrastructure for the betterment of our citizens.
In particular, there were two pieces of this project that ensured its success and deserve to be highlighted.
The public information campaign surrounding the system switch was crucial, and highly effective, in educating the public in what to expect and how their needs would be accommodated during the transition period. Without this information, chaos surely would have ensued. Instead, the opposite transpired and the DMV’s services worked better than ever. AAA also deserves recognition for its tremendous help during DMV office closures so that people could still accomplish what they needed to do during this period.
A second helpful aspect of the smooth transition was the special legislation passed this year, at the urging of DMV, to extend expiration dates for permits, licenses and registrations during the transition time. This decisive and essential component of the project saved many Rhode Islanders from the frightening possibility of operating their vehicles illegally on expired tags or licenses, through no fault of their own due to the extensive system switch-over. Due to this policy, the DMV protected us all from major inconveniences at best, or possible hefty fines and tickets at worst. The foresight in requesting this legislation helped guarantee the success of this project and should be commended.
I know these are often frustrating times for many Rhode Islanders. There have been too many failures and your anger is understandable and justified. But, the successful undertaking of finally modernizing the DMV computer system is a prime example of government serving its citizens well, learning from past failures such as UHIP, and providing the top-notch services that Rhode Island residents deserve and should expect. Negativity, especially when warranted, will still be present. I have no illusions about that. But the people of this state should also be aware of the good things the state government does on their behalf as well.
K. Joseph Shekarchi is the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives and he is a Democrat representing District 23 in Warwick.