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MNLARS needs new software, IT experts say

May 01, 2019 06:55 PM

An independent panel tasked with reviewing the troubled MNLARS system said Wednesday that the state should turn away from the system and seek private vendor software.

The panel, commissioned by Gov. Tim Walz, said at a press conference that the state should stop work on the current MNLARS system, other than to fix any "bugs," KSTP's Tom Hauser reports.

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The panel said the state should acquire software from private vendors over the next 16 months.

Hauser reports Walz said he accepts the recommendation and knows it will likely result in short-term disruptions in the work of deputy registrars.

"I think you'll be able to get license tabs just the way you get the license tabs today," said Rick King, the chairman of the independent review panel, who works at Thomson Reuters. "So that's not going to be a disruption. For the registrars and the people in the back office...this is yet another change."

Walz said he's committed to getting it right this time.

“I’m committed to fixing Minnesota’s Vehicle Licensing and Registration System," a statement read. “That’s why I reached across the aisle to bring people together to find a solution. Minnesotans don’t care how they get their license plates or tabs, they just want them on time and error-free.

"My administration will continue to make state government as efficient and accountable as possible.”

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The pivot to the new private software system is estimated to cost $85.7 million, compared to the $71.3 million projected for development and ongoing operation of the current MNLARS. The state has already spent more than $100 million in developing the system which first went online in 2017.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has been a frequent critic of how former Gov. Mark Dayton's administration handled MNLARS, but he gives Walz high marks for seeking a solution.

"So this is bold, and as a result of this shift, I know that the Senate will be leaning into this as we find a solution," Gazelka said at the news conference with Walz.

You can click here to see the report from the independent committee.

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