State wide computer problem causes BMV backup

All BMV employees could do was sit and wait out the computer shutdown.
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Jennie Runevitch/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A statewide computer failure caused long lines and a lack of service Saturday at Bureau of Motor Vehicles branches across Indiana. But the shut-down wasn't the BMV's fault.

Customers outside the BMV were at the boiling point Saturday morning.

"Everybody's just sitting, sitting in the seats waiting," said BMV customer Joshua Poynter.

Dozens of frustrated faces at the Virginia Avenue Branch where customers sat, without service. Computers at the Virginia Avenue Branch and at every branch across the state went down just after 8:30 a.m.

"They did one transaction and after that they said the computers were down and they'd be back up in a little bit and they haven't been back on at all," explained Poynter.

No identifications, no renewals on a Saturday in mid-month, when registrations expire.

The shutdown is reminiscent of chaos last summer, when a botched BMV computer conversion left customers angry for months.

The problem on Saturday is much bigger than the BMV. In fact, this time the BMV's not to blame at all. The entire state wide, state government computer network, malfunctioned.

The network failure is so widespread, Information Technology crews called it a "code red" originated at the Indiana Office of Technology. Early indications pointed to a hardware issue.

"We've brought in everybody from around Marion County. Some are in virtually to identify the problem to fix it," said Chris Cotterill from the Office of Technology.

On a weekday, this would have frozen most large state agencies from FSSA to the department of health. But on a Saturday it's business at the BMV that suffered.

Cotterill says, "We know how annoying this is. If this happened to me, I'd be annoyed just as much as anybody else."

And for these customers, a computer fix didn't come soon enough.

"Very frustrated. It's a whole day wasted, you know?," said a customer.

The BMV is providing extensions for customers who tried, unsuccessfully, to renew plates and registrations Saturday.

As for the computer malfunction, Information Technology employees are hard at work trying to identify and fix the problem. Things should be up to full speed by start-of-business Monday.