Transport for NSW (TfNSW) is pushing to replace its antiquated Driver Vehicle System (DRIVES), despite numerous attempts and significant financial investment. 

The DRIVES system, crucial for managing over 6.2 million driver licences and more than 7 million vehicle registrations, has been described as a relic of technology that is both critical and outdated.

An audit by the NSW auditor-general reveals TfNSW has spent at least $36 million of an allocated $60 million in efforts to replace DRIVES, initially launched in 1991. Despite these efforts, the agency has struggled to present a “robust business case” for a modern system that should save around $31 million over a decade. 

The auditor-general's report criticises TfNSW for not learning from past failures and for the absence of strategic management regarding DRIVES' growth and security concerns.

The auditor-general highlighted that the system, which includes sensitive personal and biometric data, has expanded far beyond its initial scope without a comprehensive service management framework. 

This lack of oversight has resulted in unmanaged growth, with DRIVES now supporting a broad range of services across 141 user organisations, including law enforcement and health services.

TfNSW's third attempt to devise a business case for replacing DRIVES has seen more than $14 million spent on consultancy fees, without clear progress or accountability for past failures. 

The report also raised concerns about DRIVES' cybersecurity measures, noting that a system to detect anomalous patterns of access, recommended by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2021, is still pending.

In response to the audit, TfNSW says it has accepted six recommendations and initiated the ‘RegStar’ program to develop a more resilient and adaptable technology environment, acknowledging the challenges posed by the ageing system.