N.H. upgrading computers

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – New Hampshire is in the middle of major computer overhauls to replace outdated equipment and systems, some of which have been in use for more than two decades. The state hopes the upgrades will make a major difference in the Medicaid program, driver records and the way the state keeps track of its budget.

The Department of Motor Vehicles has been criticized for long lags in revoking the licenses of habitual motor-vehicle offenders.

“We have an extremely archaic setup,” Assistant Safety Commissioner Earl Sweeney told Foster’s Sunday Citizen. He said the current system has been in place since the early 1980s.

The state already has implemented the first two stages of the 14-stage DMV project, which includes an overhaul of the licensing system and streamlining communication between departments. The project is scheduled for completion in the next three to four years.

Sweeney said the first two stages cost $7.6 million. The system allows communities to update registrations and titles faster, using their office computers.

The next four projects are an estimated $2.5 million upgrade to licensing, boat registrations, accident tracking and the violations database.

Sweeney said the change that would have the most impact is an improvement to the driver history and violations database, which he said has been at the heart of many of the DMV delays.

The Department of Health and Human Services is in the midst of a $60 million computer system replacement.

Deputy Commission Nick Toumpas said the new system is necessary because the current model will be 12 years old by the time it is replaced.

Washington will pay 90 of the costs. The project, which is in the early design phase, is scheduled for completion by January 2008.

The new system will help the department operate more effectively and efficiently, he said, with enhanced capabilities like fraud monitoring and quicker, more thorough federal reporting mechanisms.

The newest project is installation of a $20 million system that would combine the state’s financial services, budgeting and human resources programs.

Rick Bailey, who heads the state’s Office of Information Technology, said the current system simply is outdated.

“The system we have now is very old and constantly poses problems to the Legislature on budgeting issues,” he said. “This will be the best way to improve government in the state.”

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