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Kansas Revenue Secretary Says Driver’s License IT Project On Track For 2018 Launch

Celia Llopis-Jepsen
Kansas News Service
Kansas Revenue Secretary Sam Williams updates lawmakers on a project to migrate driver's license records off an aged mainframe to a new system set to launch at the start of 2018. Williams spoke to lawmakers Friday at the Statehouse in Topeka.

Kansas Revenue Secretary Sam Williams assured lawmakers Friday that the state’s new driver’s license system is on course for a smooth rollout at the start of 2018, despite auditor concerns to the contrary.

At issue is a critical Department of Revenue information technology project — known as KanDrive or KanLicense — to migrate records for about 2 million people from an aged mainframe to a new system. Access to those records is critical for motor vehicle offices and law enforcement agencies.

Williams told a joint panel of senators and representatives that if problems arise that would result in a rollout marred by glitches, he will push back the launch date. He does not, however, anticipate any such issues.

He was seeking to ease lawmaker worries that KanDrive’s January unveiling will play out like the troubled 2012 rollout of a new system for vehicle registration records.

That phase of the Department of Revenue’s IT modernization efforts occurred under a previous secretary and led to hours-long lines for Kansans trying to update their tags in some counties.

“There’s a new sheriff in town,” Williams said. “I can simply tell you that this product, if it’s not ready to go, it will not be put out in the marketplace.”

“I can simply tell you that this product, if it’s not ready to go, it will not be put out in the marketplace.” — Sam Williams

Williams said his department has begun training staff from motor vehicle offices on using the new system, which will continue to undergo testing this fall.

The American Association for Motor Vehicle Administrators, which allows for data communication among states, also has access to the product now. Association officials are testing it to make sure it meets the organization’s regulations and has not found any major problems, Williams said.

The 2018 launch is six years behind schedule, but the project ran into troubles over the years, prompting a series of legislative audits

Lawmakers expressed concern earlier this month and last month after the latest audit of the project found ongoing problems.

Legislative auditors, who have been reviewing the initiative quarterly, concluded the project continued to be plagued by problems that put it at risk for compromising quality and missing the go-live date.

Williams said he hopes the next audit will show that the situation has now improved.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach her on Twitter @Celia_LJ. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.

I'm the creator of the environmental podcast Up From Dust. I write about how the world is transforming around us, from topsoil loss and invasive species to climate change. My goal is to explain why these stories matter to Kansas, and to report on the farmers, ranchers, scientists and other engaged people working to make Kansas more resilient. Email me at celia@kcur.org.
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