The Minnesota Senate today passed a bipartisan compromise bill that adds strict oversight and accountability, as well as additional funding, to fix the failed licensing and vehicle registration system known as MNLARS. The legislation, Senate File 3133, authored by Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), appropriates $9.65 million from existing funds for driver and vehicle services for immediate I.T. related expenses. The bill also includes strict oversight measures, including a quarterly report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor, and a mechanism for the legislature to shut off all funding if development benchmarks are not met.
“There is no question that MNLARS must be fixed for the consumers, deputy registrars, and auto dealers across the state currently experiencing frustration every day,” said Senator Newman, chairman of the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. “Any emergency funding must come from existing reserves, and not a penny will be spent without strict oversight to protect taxpayers from more waste and inefficiency.”
The bill requires the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Minnesota IT Services (MN.IT) officials to submit a proposed timeline, including quarterly benchmarks, for a fully-functional program to the MNLARS Steering Committee by May 15. As the software is developed, the committee must approve any additional quarterly appropriation, provided the quarterly benchmarks are being met.
Despite a decade of planning and over $93 million spent, MNLARS was rolled out last July with widespread problems. In the eight months since its release, those difficulties largely remain.