Lines forming

Jean Sidwell of Buffalo County is among Nebraska’s county treasurers working the kinks out of a complex and confusing new system for titling and registering vehicles. The system, called ‘Victory,’ is causing lines of customers to form as staffers try to maneuver the new software.

KEARNEY — You may be in for a wait if you’re licensing or titling your vehicle.

Since Oct. 15, the day after the three-day Columbus Day weekend, county treasurer offices across Nebraska have been wrestling with new software. Staff at the Buffalo County Treasurer’s office said lines as long as airport security checkpoints formed as officials behind the counter fought through the new procedures.

“The software is called ‘Victory,’ but there are no flags flying here,” Buffalo County Treasurer Jean Sidwell said about the new software.

Tuesday’s traffic at the vehicle registration window happened to be light and steady. It could have been a time for the treasurer’s staff to catch its breath, but a late-morning glitch in the centralized system brought down printers across Nebraska.

With no printers, Sidwell’s staff had to turn away customers.

Deputy Treasurer Brenda Rohrich said the treasurer’s team has been mostly patient, but learning the Victory system has been complicated for Buffalo County’s seven-person staff.

“The customers were really understanding. A lot of them said they had experiences at their jobs with new computers and software,” Rohrich said. Maybe out of sympathy, one person brought a plate of cookies.

Sidwell said her staff was confident using the old software, called VTR, but that system had been around 30 years, and changes in vehicles and how they’re recorded in the state registry has evolved, so a new system was needed.

Treasurer offices across Nebraska helped develop and test Victory. Some became trainers, but the unfamiliarity and complexity of the new system have really challenged treasurers and their staff, Sidwell said.

She’s received a blizzard of emails from frustrated colleagues, but she stopped short when reading one of the messages because of its colorful language.

As the number of vehicle types has multiplied, treasurer officials have at times struggled to correctly identify them when they’re titled and licensed, Sidwell said. The Victory system anticipates the complexity, but instead of intuitively guiding the treasurer’s staff step-by-step, there are scores of options and they don’t always make sense, she said.

“There are enormous numbers of screens. There are thousands of screens,” she said. “It’s become very complex. It’s like a brain overload to do all of this. That’s why we needed the new system to be intuitive.”

As an example, she said a customer might want to title or register a custom or restored vehicle. “A classic car might have the body of a ’ 62, but the car may have parts from many different cars, and they all have to be accounted for,” and that means selecting the correct screen and marking the right boxes before moving ahead to additional screens.

Before Victory, customers could register or title their vehicles in just a couple of minutes. Several times last week, customers had to wait past closing time or return the next day because registering or titling their vehicles took so long.

Rohrich said the staff is staying optimistic and working hard to learn more about the new system.

Although its complex, Victory doesn’t perform some functions Sidwell expected. On her desk Tuesday was a stack of cash drawer reports. They told how much cash, check and credit card receipts were, but failed to total the three categories, so Sidwell spent part of her day totaling the receipts manually.

Later Tuesday morning, a Buffalo County staffer waited for someone to answer the help line to get the printers functioning again.

The delays and extra time for processing registrations and titles add up to extra costs, Sidwell said. “I have a staff built around shorter transactions, but now it’s taking too long.”

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