State technology, public safety, and driver and vehicle services officials were again called on the carpet by state lawmakers Wednesday over the continued failings of Minnesota’s new licensing and registration system.
The House Select Committee on Technology and Responsive Government took testimony from state officials and deputy registrars on MNLARS, Minnesota's new system for handling critical tasks like license tabs and vehicle registration that has caused major headaches since its rollout in July.
Myriad glitches have, in some cases, left the registrars — privately-run businesses that do the work of interacting with the public on a local level — unable to issue titles, transfer license plates, or accurately calculate a vehicle’s base value for registration.
State officials repeated their recent public apologies for the system’s bumpy debut. But, in addition to frustrated customers, the problematic rollout has also left some deputy registrars on the verge of going out of business, lawmakers and industry experts said.
“We don’t have [full functionality] today,” said Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia). “And I think deputy registrars and people of all stripes in Minnesota want to know: When will MNLARS be fully functional?”
The answer, officials said during a grilling from lawmakers, isn’t exactly clear.
Tom Baden, commissioner of the state’s technology provider, MN.IT, said his agency and the Department of Public Safety have worked “days, nights, weekends (and) holidays” in an effort to fix MNLARS’ defects.
Another “significant rollout” of fixes is expected this month, he said, “but it will be into next year until we have all the functionality we want.”
Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman said state officials reduced the number of unissued vehicle titles by 2,200 on Tuesday. That, she said, leaves the backlog of unissued titles at 374,353.
“We still have a lot to be done,” Dohman said.
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