New plan revealed for flawed MNLARS system: getting rid of it

It's set to be replaced by a system developed by private vendors.
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Minnesota's state government has come up with a new solution to address the mess that is its driver and vehicle licensing system: scrapping it.

The MNLARS system has been beset by problems and glitches from the moment of its inception, and on Wednesday Gov. Tim Walz was given a recommendation on how to fix the flawed program.

An independent panel of IT experts recommended that the state scrap the MNLARS system, and build a new one using private vendors.

"While this recommendation drives incremental cost in the short-term and causes disruption with another cutover, it is the lowest risk path to a solution that is expected to more fully meet the long-term needs of all stakeholders, in part because of the opportunity to leverage features, functionality and best practices from other states that use the same software," the panel said.

Gov. Walz said at a press conference on Wednesday that he accepts the recommendations of the panel, and is looking for an extra $20 million from state coffers to add to the $53 million he previously asked for in order to fund the new system.

But the independent panel suggests that replacing the system a "packaged software solution" could cost as much as $86 million.

MNLARS was rolled out after nine years and $100 million of development in July 2017, with customers almost immediately hit with delays in the processing of license tabs, registration renewals, and title applications.

The Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor in a February report revealed a series of failures within the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Minnesota IT Services surrounding the project.

It appears as though Gov. Walz has the support of Republicans in the Legislature to get a new system up and running, with the Star Tribune reporting that Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka praised Gov. Walz for reviewing the MNLARS system and reaching across the aisle for a solution.

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