Registry chief defends hiring of embattled Deloitte

Watertown-3/10/10- At the Watertown Mall branch office of the Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles, Registrar Rachel Kaprielian demonstrates the touch screen monitor used to cancel motorists registrations and turn in their old license plates. The plates can be put into container next to the screen and will recieve a printed confirmation of the transaction. The kiosks will also be put into registry locations in Brockton. Plymouth and Wilmington by the end of the month. Boston Globe staff photo by John Tlumacki (metro) Library Tag 03112010 Metro 1st Edition
The Boston Globe

The head of the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles sought to allay concerns Wednesday about the agency’s hiring of Deloitte Consulting, the firm facing scrutiny after having problems with two other large state technology contracts.

Speaking at a Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s board of directors meeting, Rachel Kaprielian said the Registry’s $76.8 million project to modernize the state’s license and registration software system remained on schedule, and she promised to closely monitor the project to tackle any potential issues head-on.

“If there’s something amiss, or if there’s any bit of smoke, we’re on it like a cheap suit,” Kaprielian said.

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Deloitte declined to comment.

The modernization project, scheduled to proceed over the next several years, will revamp the Registry’s 27-year-old software system, consolidating license and vehicle registration databases, providing a more user-friendly system for RMV staff, and allowing customers to access their own Registry records online.

It’s a labyrinthine endeavor, launching just months after the rollout of a Deloitte system for managing unemployment benefits that came in two years late and millions of dollars over budget. That system has also been riddled with errors and kept hundreds of jobless people waiting weeks for their benefits.

In addition, the state’s Department of Revenue fired New York-based Deloitte in August, midway through a $114 million contract to overhaul the state’s tax-filing system. The state had already paid the firm $54 million. The Globe also has reported on troubled Deloitte contracts in other states.

Kaprielian said a slew of deadlines and requirements are written into the Registry's contract with Deloitte to ensure the project moves forward on schedule. Representatives from Deloitte are expected to update her every two weeks for the duration of the project, she said.

“There are provisions in place to respond in case things do not happen on time,” Kaprielian said.

Richard A. Davey, the state’s secretary of transportation, encouraged the Transportation Department board to keep a close eye on the project.

“It’s going to be important for this board to demand oversight,” Davey said. “Failure is not an option.”

A state legislative hearing is scheduled for Monday to address the problems with the unemployment system.