MNLARS Review Reveals 'Significant Inaccuracies' in Certain Transactions

September 25, 2018 06:02 PM

The Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor has released the results of a special review of the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS).

Last July, the Department of Public Safety and Minnesota IT Services implemented the system that is seeing growing costs of more than $90 million. Now a state audit report finds significant inaccuracies in specifically vehicle registration transactions.
    
Among many findings, the report uncovered that people were underpaying and overpaying for vehicle registration.     

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"Were the customers charged the right amount," asked Judy Randall, deputy legislative auditor 

Randall said the good news is 99 percent of transactions were accurate, but there were some issues. 

"We did, however, find significant inaccuracies related to the registration tax, those license tabs, those tabs that you renew every year on your license plate," Randall said. 

In one example, the base value ranges in the report from $2 dollars to $70,000 for a 2018 Ford F-150.

"People are taxed on that base value for the same vehicle, that's quite a spread," Randall said. "Our premise is if you and I own the exact same vehicle, we should pay the same in registration tax." 


 


Plus the auditor tested the MNLARS system and found it did not correctly tax at least a third of newly registered vehicles.

"We saw examples where Deputy Registrars entered in the odometer reading rather than the base value or entered in the weight of a vehicle rather than the base value," Randall said. 

Based on the report, this is a result of complex laws, programming and user errors. But Randall believes the problem started well before MNLARS.

"It's not unique to MNLARS, it's unique to how Minnesota calculates registration tax and the unavailability of that data," Randall said. 

Minnesota IT Services and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety issued a statement after the release of the report: 

"We appreciate the Legislative Auditor's work to understand the accuracy of transactions that occurred in the MNLARS system during its first six months of operation and illuminate the complexity behind motor vehicle service delivery in the State of Minnesota.  The report found that, for several types of transaction, over 99% are being processed accurately by MNLARS. Where the report found transaction inaccuracies attributable to system defects, it also notes system improvements that have already been made to address them. Where system gaps remain, we are committed to making enhancements to MNLARS accordingly. But let's be clear: the vast majority of inaccuracies asserted in this report are not the result of a malfunctioning MNLARS IT system. Rather, they largely reflect differences in interpretation of statute, human error in data entry, and the misalignment between unique Minnesota laws and automotive industry practices. We at Minnesota IT Services and the Department of Public Safety stand ready to work with the Minnesota Legislature to clarify and manage the complexities that underlie motor vehicle laws and industry practices in Minnesota."

According to the release, the report makes recommendations for improvement to the Department of Public Safety, Minnesota IT Services and the state legislature.

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Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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