SOS Starts Ignition on CARS Project

New effort begins to modernize computer system for customers

 Secretary of State staff are celebrating the recent launch of the new effort to modernize the office’s computer system that will bring more efficient, convenient service to customers across Michigan, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

The new effort, called Customer and Automotive Records System (CARS), will create a modern computer system, replacing the antiquated legacy mainframe-based system that dates to the late 1960s. The legacy system is programmed with a computer language that is no longer taught, and is costly to maintain and update.

“The people of Michigan and Secretary of State staff deserve better than the out-of-date computer system we have,” Johnson said. “Now we are moving forward with our partner FAST Enterprises to make a much-improved system a reality. FAST has a proven record of success launching similar projects on time and on budget for many other state motor-vehicle agencies.”

The CARS Project will combine Michigan’s millions of driver and vehicle records into one integrated customer record system that updates in real time, replacing multiple, separate systems that don’t effectively transfer customer-record updates among themselves.

All of the information in the new system will be quickly accessible by an office staff member with a single search. Even correspondence that has been sent to each customer will be part of their record.

The improvement in technology will pave the way for more self-service options for customers, such as ordering license plates online, and for faster, less resource-intensive programming when there are legislative changes that affect the department. CARS will also help the department move to electronic records and to eliminate paperwork for customers.

FAST Enterprises, the vendor for the project, has launched 10 motor-vehicle systems in eight states and is the only company nationally that has successfully completed legacy modernization projects for motor-vehicle agencies in more than one state. In each of those states, the company delivered on time and on budget. The company is taking its existing software package and tailoring it to Michigan’s needs.

CARS is expected to be implemented fully within five years. The first half of the project will involve converting vehicle records over to the new system and implementing it. Then, the same will be done for driver records.