Glitches Delay Launch of Another MNIT Software Project

April 03, 2018 10:47 PM

The head of the Minnesota Information Technology Services Department (MNIT) says the launch of a computer software program for the Department of Human Services will be delayed until at least July.

MNIT Commissioner Johanna Clyborne told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS her agency did the right thing by halting the software launch until all its problems are fixed.


RELATED: State IT Dept's Spending Raises Lawmaker Eyebrows in Light of MNLARS Issues

"We would be doing the citizens of Minnesota a disservice if I allowed a project to roll out that is not at the function level it needs to be at," Clyborne said.

The program is called Periodic Data Matching. It is intended to prevent people who do not qualify from being enrolled in taxpayer-financed health care programs.

State Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, chairs the Human Services Committee. She said the PDM is projected to save taxpayers $138 million through the 2019 biennium budget.

RELATED: With Funding Approved, Work Resumes Fixing MNLARS

"This is shameful because DHS has already budgeted for those savings," Benson said. 

"That money will now have to come from the general fund, and it could have been used to help the elderly in nursing homes, or the disabled who might need support. And because the software is not working, money is still going to people who do not qualify for those state-funded medical care programs."

DHS Commissioner Charles Johnson said his agency is disappointed by the delay. But he said the department will be able to cover the lost savings through other state funds.

"We really need to balance the loss of those savings with ensuring that we are rolling out a program that counties are prepared to handle and there are not too many defects in the code," Johnson said.

Clyborne said Minnesota taxpayers should still have confidence in MNIT, even though the agency is still struggling with the computer glitches that have plagued the MNLARS program - putting 200,000 Minnesotans on a waiting list to get their car registration and driver's licenses renewed.

RELATED: After Weeks of Clashing, Lawmakers Move on MNLARS Funding

"We have 360 computer software projects that have not had any problems, and in this case we are doing the right thing by not rolling it out until it is ready," she said.

Clyborne and Johnson are confident the PDM program will be up and running by the end of July. 

It was supposed to launch this week.

But Benson said lawmakers are growing more frustrated with MNIT's recent troubles. She said having another large computer software project delay a state program designed to save taxpayers' money is "unacceptable."


Jay Kolls

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