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Tag office computer glitch keeps people waiting for hours

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at 6:58 p.m.

When Josh Loyd got to the Sedgwick County Tag Office at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, he didn’t expect to be there through lunchtime.

But he said he didn’t get out until about 1 p.m.

That included about three hours of waiting for his number to be called and about another half-hour waiting for his transaction to go through after he got to the service counter.

“It’s the software programming,” he said with exasperation. “When I got to the desk, it crashed twice.”

This was Loyd’s second trip in less than a week to the tag office near 21st and Woodlawn to register a car he had just bought. The first time, he had to leave for work after a two-hour wait.

Tuesday, when he walked in, he pulled No. 33 from the ticket dispenser, and the board showed the clerks were serving customer No. 12, meaning only 21 people could have been served in the 3 1/2 hours he spent at the tag office.

And he said he saw several people leave in frustration, so it probably wasn’t even that many.

Tuesday was Day 3 of the latest slowdown for a state Department of Revenue system that has had a checkered record ever since it came on line in May.

By the end of the day, the problem appeared to have been resolved – at least for now, said County Treasurer Linda Kizzire, whose office runs the local motor vehicle offices.

By late afternoon, Department of Motor Vehicles customers were reporting that wait times had shrunk to about one to 1 1/2 hours.

“It was a problem getting the titles to commit,” Kizzire said. “They (clerks) had to push the button several times to get it to go through.”

Jeannine Koranda, a spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue in Topeka, said technicians from 3M Co., the computer vendor that sold the system to the state, had been working on it all day. Problems were reported throughout the state.

Late in the day, the system was running better, but 3M still had not figured out exactly what caused the glitch in the first place, Koranda said.

The ongoing issues with the computer system have forced the department to take some unusual actions over the past few months. Through much of the summer, the Revenue Department asked police throughout the state to suspend writing tickets for expired license tags, because too many people were having too many problems getting their new tags on time.

The department is advising motorists to avoid going to the tag office if possible, Koranda said.

For simple license tag renewals, Koranda advised that people mail in their payments or renew through the Internet, a separate computer system that has been working fine.

The department has suspended convenience fees for the online system through August, Koranda said.

The idea is to get people to use the Internet system and leave the tag offices to handle more complex transactions that have to be done in person, such as new vehicle registrations and title transfers, Koranda said.

Loyd’s mother, Karen Loyd, said she thinks the wait times have become “ridiculous.”

“You shouldn’t have to take a day off to get your tags,” she said.

And she said it seems strange “if we’re paying the same people to fix the system that couldn’t install it right in the first place.”

Koranda said 3M owns the software code that the system runs on.

“They’re the ones most familiar with the code and best able to identify problems,” she said.

However, the Revenue Department is still withholding about 10 percent of its contract payments to 3M until the tag system is fixed and a companion system for issuing driver’s licenses is up and running, Koranda said.

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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