Michigan Secretary of State to upgrade decades-old computer system, adding online options
Offices, kiosks, online services switching to modern system
Michigan Secretary of State officers will get an upgrade this month that will add new online options and a more modern record system for residents.
During a Presidents Day weekend closure, the Michigan Department of State will replace the outdated vehicle records system it has used for decades with a modern computer system to better serve customers.
The Customer and Automotive Records System (CARS) will enhance services for Michigan residents by adding new online options, improving existing online and kiosk services, and giving staff a more efficient tool to look up vehicle information and process transactions.
CARS updates records in real time and replaces antiquated 1960s legacy mainframe technology that has impeded the department’s ability to optimally serve customers.
“This is a vital project for our department and its millions of customers and the first step in implementing our 30-minute guarantee,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said. “When fully implemented, the new system will transform our technology, making our work more efficient and our service to customers better than before.”
During the upgrade to the CARS platform, Secretary of State branch offices, online services and auto business transactions will be taken offline and unavailable from 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, until 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19. Self-service kiosks will be taken offline in phases beginning Friday, Feb. 8. (See the schedule.) The seven Super Centers usually open Saturday will be closed Saturday, Feb. 16, for the system-wide conversion. All branches will be closed on Presidents Day (Monday, Feb. 18).
For a few weeks following the launch, as staff gets accustomed to the new computer system and adjusts to a different process for handling transactions, service in offices may take longer. Customers are encouraged to use CARS e-Services at ExpressSOS.com or to complete their transactions outside this timeframe.
Late fees will be waived for transactions with expiration dates between Feb. 11 and March 2.
“We sincerely appreciate customers’ patience and understanding as our department modernizes its computer system,” Benson said.
CARS will bring a number of improvements:
- Convenient, new online services will be offered at ExpressSOS.com that include the option to order a license plate, renew a snowmobile registration and order a Recreation Passport and replacement tab for a plate. Many transactions for auto dealers, repair facilities, mechanics and driver education instructors and providers will be possible online.
- Existing online services will be more user-friendly with an intuitive interface and real-time updates that will allow many of a customer’s vehicle-related transactions the old system would reject as unavailable (because of data update issues).
- Advanced security features will prompt online customers to create a user ID and password using MILogin, which also can be used to access other state government services.
- Self-service kiosks now will offer watercraft registration renewals, in addition to the current license plate tab renewals.
- Branch office technology will be greatly improved. All of the information in CARS will be quickly accessible by a branch office staff member with a single search, and they can review the transaction history to better assist customers.
- Programming legislative changes that affect the department will be a faster, less resource-intensive process with modern technology.
- The department will be able to move toward electronic records and eliminating paperwork for customers.
Upon completion of the vehicle records phase of the project, the driver records system will be replaced over the next two years, securely combining tens of millions of driver and vehicle records into one integrated customer record system.
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