No one likes the DMV. If they were a brand, they would have gone bankrupt long ago. But whether we like it or not, anyone with a vehicle is going to have to work with this government agency at some point. They certainly didn’t help their reputation in the 1990s when the states of California and Washington attempted to computerize their Departments of Motor Vehicles.
The project began in 1987 in California as a five-year, $27 million plan to track 31 million driver licenses and 38 million vehicle registrations. The issues began right from the start by soliciting only one bid for the contract, Tandem Computers, locking the state into their services.
To make matters worse, tests showed that the new computers were slower than the ones they were to replace. But the state kept going until 1994, when it had to admit failure and end the project. All-in-all, the endeavor cost the state $49 million. And the cherry on top? A state audit found that the DMV violated contracting laws and regulations.
Every industry has its regulations. Projects must exhibit due diligence, and legal and regulatory constraints are a necessary part of that process. If the state of California had done so from the start, a costly mess could have been avoided, and a trip to the DMV might have become slightly less dreadful.