by Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Kansas News Service
Kansas’ plans to migrate driver’s license records for about 2 million people from an aged mainframe to new information technology infrastructure remain troubled, a new report indicates.
Some portions of the already-delayed KanLicense project have been further postponed, a team of legislative auditors wrote in the report, with plans to carry them out after the project’s go-live date in early January.
According to the report, the Kansas Department of Revenue — the agency in charge of implementing KanLicense, previously known as KanDrive — said the portions being punted to next year involve server upgrades and other items that won’t cause problems.
The auditors disagreed.
“There is potential risk that delaying this portion of the work could jeopardize the successful roll-out of the KanLicense project,” the report said, “or could result in functionality issues after the system is in use.”
In a letter responding to the audit, the department said KanLicense has seen a “positive turnaround.”
KanLicense “has successfully accomplished many project milestones,” department official Lisa Kaspar wrote.
Lawmakers and state officials want to avoid the type of technical woes that plagued past Kansas IT projects after they went live, including the launch of a new system for vehicle registrations in 2012 and a new software platform for Medicaid eligibility in 2015.
Auditors have been monitoring KanLicense on a quarterly basis because of its rocky progress. Its latest projected launch date is six years behind schedule. Uninterrupted access to driver’s license records is vital for motor vehicle offices and law enforcement agencies.
Last month Kansas Revenue Secretary Sam Williams told lawmakers he will push back the KanLicense launch if quality issues arise but said the project is on track for a smooth rollout.
It is undergoing testing this fall, he said, and staff from motor vehicle offices have begun training related to its use.
Other problems that auditors cited in their new report included concerns that more work remains to be done on KanLicense than can be completed by January, and that contractors continue to miss deadlines.
The department switched to a system of milestone targets to hold contractors accountable, but auditors said the agency accepted some portions of work as meeting milestones even when components were missing.
One of the contractors, MorphoTrust, recently replaced its program manager, the report said. It also shortened its timeline for system testing from two months to one to help catch up.
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.