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State Representative Jeff Howe

527 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-4373

For more information contact: Chad Urdahl 651-296-5520

Posted: 2017-10-18
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Legislative Update

Report from the House


 

Dear Neighbor,

The rollout of the new Minnesota License and Registration System has been riddled with problems and the resulting headaches could become even more serious unless prompt corrective action is taken.

MNLARS has been designed as a replacement for the antiquated Driver and Vehicle Services IT system. It was launched in late July, pitched as an “efficient, secure Web-based system” for driver’s licenses, ID cards and vehicle registration and transfer.

Instead, it has been a nightmare. Systems have bogged down. Delays are occurring. Registrars have received the baffling advice from state officials to complete inaccurate transactions and, in one case, to tell a customer it “was his lucky day” for being undercharged.

Nearly a decade and $90 million in taxpayer money has been spent building an Internet system that cannot perform its core functions. If this is starting to sound familiar, it may be for good reason: The same state IT service which managed the rollout of MNsure has been in charge of building MNLARS.

Here’s where it gets dicey: Minnesota is in the process of becoming compliant with new federal Real ID standards. Our state recently was granted another grace period by the Department of Homeland Security, ensuring Minnesota driver’s licenses can continue to be used for boarding flights and entering federal buildings until at least this Jan. 22. The feds have been willing to work with us so far, but you can expect them to stop granting extensions at some point. Unless we get our act together, standard state IDs may no longer suffice for the aforementioned purposes.

I am among House members demanding action from the Minnesota Department of Public Services. Accountability needs to be the order of the day. We need honest answers and if MNIT can’t do the job, let’s find someone who can. Maybe third-party vendors should be brought on to get the system up and running, with MNIT serving security and maintenance roles once things are in order.

Right now, there are far more questions than answers. Citizens have expressed serious concerns during public hearings in St. Paul and Willmar. Hundreds of complaints also have been submitted to an online public-comment box. The incremental progress reported to date is not enough to instill confidence.

Our state has committed to MNLARS and it needs to work. Minnesotans deserve to rest assured they will be able to obtain licenses and conduct other vehicle-related business in a timely manner. Anything less is unacceptable and I will continue to demand results that will allow this system to operate at full capacity and provide quality service to the people of our state.

Public comments on this issue may be submitted at this link.

Good luck,

Jeff

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