Viewpoint: State has roadmap to fix licensing computer system


Dana Bailey is executive director of projects and initiatives for Minnesota IT Services

Minnesotans work hard and pay their taxes. In return, they expect and deserve high quality, efficient services from their state government. They should get nothing less.

That is why Minnesota IT Services, under new leadership, is strongly committed to fixing the problems with our state's Minnesota Licensing and Registration System or MNLARS. There is no excuse for the problems this system has created for Minnesotans these last six months, and we deeply regret the impact it has had on our people and businesses.

Just three months ago, Gov. Mark Dayton asked me to join Minnesota IT Services as executive director of the MNLARS project. Since then, I have driven 1,600 miles across our state to meet with deputy registrars, auto dealers, credit unions, lenders, auctioneers, and other Minnesotans. I talked with them one on one to understand how the MNLARS system was working, to see firsthand the problems it was creating for businesses and people, and to ask what we could do to get this project done right.

We took their detailed feedback seriously. We responded to each of their concerns. And then we took everything we learned and put together a comprehensive plan to fix the problems.

We already are making significant progress to make MNLARS work better. The backlog created by MNLARS' technical problems at one point reached as high as 380,000 delayed vehicle titles. Working around the clock, we have cut that backlog in half. Later this month, we are hopeful a whole new round of fixes will cut that backlog even further. More than that, more than 3 million Minnesotans have received their plates and stickers through the system already. And since the MNLARS system launched in July, more than 775,000 Minnesotans have received their titles with an average of 5,300 receiving their titles every day.

At this point, we can't stop working, and we can't slow down. This system represents a core function of government: Minnesotans need it to work smoothly so they can get their business done. It processes more than $1 billion in transactions each year, and ensuring the data it holds is accurate and usable helps to keep us all safe.

Everyone at Minnesota IT Services, and the governor, shares the same mission: to make the MNLARS system work flawlessly for the people of Minnesota. We are accountable for getting this done right.

The $43 million needed to complete this project is not an easy number, but it's a necessary one. We understand the frustration that comes with this financial need, and we share it. But frustration alone will not fix the problem nor get Minnesotans the services they expect and deserve.

MNLARS is too important to stop improving, and we need to cross the finish line. We are committed to moving forward and making this system right. To do so, we — and the many deputy registrars, auto dealers, and hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans who need this system to work well — now need legislative support to finish the job. We look forward to working with the Legislature this session to do exactly that. The people of Minnesota deserve nothing less.