• Who is responsible for LTO IT system’s abnormal shutdown?



    A LAWYER friend was so incensed at the hurdles he had to go through in his motor vehicle registration with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) on Tuesday that he requested me to look into it and publicly comment on the same.

    The researcher (and the sleuth) in me kicked in. I tapped some insiders and got a detailed picture on what happened on that grievous Tuesday.

    Stradcom Corp. is the IT provider
    LTO does not have its own information technology (IT) systems and facilities. Stradcom Corp. is the private sector operator of the LTO-IT project under the build-own-operate (BOO) scheme, allowed under the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) Law. The LTO-IT project is an integrated system that interconnects almost 300 LTO offices and centers nationwide. The same project provides for the mission-critical IT needs of the LTO, its online processing, insurance policy validation, and Private Emission Testing Centers (PETCs) connectivity. LTO and Stradcom are bound by the BOO agreement dated March 26, 1998.The 10-year concession period granted by the government to Stradcom started in February 2003 and allowed to expire in February 2013, without any renewal.

    According to LTO insiders, Stradcom upgraded its system server on Monday. After the hardware upgrade, the facility was allegedly directly linked to the live production systems, which then bogged down due to some technical aberrations. They claim that Stradcom has neither a backup server nor a mirror server. Thus, when the newly upgraded server was shut down for technical fine-tuning, all online transactions were suspended.

    As a result, motor vehicle registration was limited to manual document checking. The IT part, which includes system validation, computation of fees, printing of official receipt and others had to be suspended until the whole IT system was again up and running.

    The same was true for driver’s license renewals and applications. Insurance validation was likewise placed on hold until the system was restored. The LTO-IT system was restored at midday Tuesday, again as intimated by LTO insiders.

    What are the lamentations of the registering public? For one, there was no announcement of the system shutdown. Second, LTO employees apparently do not know when the IT system will be brought back to operations since they cannot give concrete answers to those who were asking questions. Third, their time was obviously wasted.

    By the way, I was informed that there is no law or regulation that requires a medical “check-up” prior to the issuance of a driver’s license. So, who is getting the chunk of the monies that we pay to these “doctors-for-hire-to-do-LTO-required-checkup”?

    What should have been done
    Has Stradcom ever heard of fault-tolerant and redundant server computing infrastructure? A backup server and mirror server are primarily intended to create a redundant server computing facility.

    This process works through specialized backup software that is installed on the backup server and the server to be mirrored. The backup software routinely synchronizes and backs up data from the primary (production) server over a secure Internet connection or virtual private network to the backup server. Normally, this process requires the backup server to have hardware and software configuration that’s identical to that found in the production server (www.techopedia.com).

    The mirror server is an off-site or remote server that stores an exact duplicate of the entire contents of the primary server at any point in time. Thus, in case of primary server failure, then the mirror server takes the place of the other server and all IT processes and online transactions are unaffected by the shutdown of the production server.

    Was this done? Were alternate primary servers even designed into the LTO-IT system?

    Breaking up with Stradcom
    As I recall, the present Department of Transportation (DOTr) signed a one-year phaseout agreement with Stradcom way back in December 2016. It is now two months after December 2017, the end of the one-year phaseout period? What happened to the phaseout?

    Recall also that the Commission on Audit rendered a Consolidated Annual Audit Report in 2011 with several observations and recommendations. These things should be followed and implemented prior to disengaging with Stradcom. This includes the refund of illegally collected fees from motor vehicle registrants and driver’s license applicants. Were these fees already remitted to the Bureau of Treasury?

    With the phaseout agreement, Stradcom should have transferred and turned over all the data to the government. LTO, on the other hand, should have started its migration procedure and captured all the data from the registrants during the whole year of 2017. By this time, even with an uncooperative Stradcom, the government should have its own copy of the database. If this was not done, then somebody here is at fault and should be properly investigated and penalized accordingly.

    In the end, liability and blame all seemingly points to Stradcom. In its Facebook page, Stradcom claims that it “currently stands at the forefront of the Philippine IT industry.” However, if it is true that it cannot even provide for a redundant or mirror server for LTO, then we could believe otherwise.



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