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Walz says state should pull plug on troubled MNLARS system

AP image - Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz says the state should pull the plug on the troubled vehicle registration system known as MNLARS and replace it with commercial software used by other states.

Posted: May 1, 2019 3:05 PM
Updated: May 1, 2019 8:25 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota should pull the plug on its troubled vehicle registration system and replace it quickly with commercial software used by other 12 states, Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday as he accepted the findings of outside experts who said it's not worth putting further resources into a system that never fully recovered from its failed launch in 2017.

While replacing MNLARS, which state agencies developed in-house, with a turnkey "packaged software solution" will cost more in the short run, the experts said there are fewer risks in switching to an outside vendor than in trying to complete the necessary fixes internally.

"I understand this is a pretty drastic course of action," Walz said at a news conference.

Altogether, Walz acknowledged, taxpayers are going to be out around $186 million, including over $100 million that the state has already spent on developing MNLARS over more than a decade. But legislative leaders from both parties, including some harsh MNLARS critics, welcomed the governor's decision and said they're ready to work out the details of authorizing the switch.

The system's shortcomings since it went live have caused heartburn for vehicle buyers, sellers and owners, and especially for deputy registrars — independent contractors who issue license plates and tabs and transfer titles. The system can now perform most basic functions but significant problems persist.

MNLARS has also been the subject of a critical report by the state's legislative auditor. Officials said Wednesday that not all money spent in MNLARS has been wasted because the data can be migrated to the new system. But the state has little else to show for the effort.

Rick King, the executive vice president for operations at Thompson Reuters who led the review team, said they recommended continuing work on MNLARS only until an update is released next month, then freezing it in "maintenance mode" so that the only future work would be bug fixes. Meanwhile, the state would expedite the procurement and implementation of the replacement system.

"The review team believes its recommendations are the best go-forward plan for the state, and provide the most future-proofing possible," King said.

King added that the team believes that the vendor could have a system ready to replace MNLARS within 16 months, with about 10 more months needed to replace other old software still operating alongside MNLARS. He also said they're "sensitive" to the additional burdens that the changeover will put on the deputy registrars, who "performed miracles out there in the field with the real customers standing in front of them waiting," and the state employees who support them.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said the Democratic governor "really led" on a problem that was "dropped in his lap" when he took office in January.

"This is bold," Gazelka said. "It bodes well for Minnesota. We've got a lot other things we have to tackle, but this is a big one."

"We really feel today we've turned the corner, both technologically and politically," said Democratic Rep. Frank Hornstein, who chairs the House transportation committee. "We're all on the same page."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 485230

Reported Deaths: 6554
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1006801585
Ramsey43047801
Dakota36254390
Anoka33274384
Washington22065255
Stearns18723201
St. Louis14794262
Scott13273107
Wright12517115
Olmsted1177988
Sherburne871572
Carver771040
Clay690387
Rice670091
Blue Earth593835
Kandiyohi579474
Crow Wing519681
Chisago498445
Otter Tail481870
Benton446190
Winona418049
Mower404131
Douglas392568
Nobles386847
Goodhue385568
Polk342762
McLeod339349
Beltrami337351
Morrison324247
Lyon313044
Itasca312746
Becker310941
Isanti305754
Carlton300149
Steele299711
Pine282016
Freeborn280523
Nicollet258141
Todd247830
Brown244637
Le Sueur235020
Mille Lacs227247
Cass219924
Waseca208917
Meeker207434
Martin189328
Wabasha18623
Roseau180217
Hubbard160640
Houston157314
Dodge15214
Renville149540
Redwood147027
Fillmore13728
Chippewa136335
Cottonwood134820
Pennington134116
Wadena130920
Faribault122917
Aitkin118933
Sibley117310
Watonwan11728
Rock115714
Kanabec107419
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9438
Jackson93510
Swift87918
Pope8025
Marshall77815
Stevens7418
Lake73718
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68316
Wilkin67110
Koochiching61811
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5062
Grant4918
Unassigned47968
Norman4768
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40821
Red Lake3625
Traverse3055
Lake of the Woods2191
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 362189

Reported Deaths: 5414
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58146549
Linn20653312
Scott18288207
Black Hawk16249291
Woodbury14961211
Johnson1383473
Dubuque13537194
Dallas1135890
Pottawattamie10765143
Story1021645
Warren555274
Clinton543284
Cerro Gordo533681
Webster518787
Marshall496272
Sioux494369
Buena Vista473236
Des Moines457661
Muscatine451191
Wapello4330108
Jasper416966
Plymouth394577
Lee375352
Marion359069
Jones294154
Henry292737
Carroll285548
Bremer280154
Crawford274735
Boone259630
Washington254147
Benton252854
Mahaska224346
Jackson221438
Dickinson217439
Tama213465
Kossuth208154
Clay193525
Hamilton192042
Delaware188839
Winneshiek188427
Buchanan185129
Fayette185035
Page183219
Hardin181039
Wright179731
Harrison179669
Cedar177923
Clayton168053
Butler166331
Mills163120
Floyd162740
Madison154518
Cherokee153935
Poweshiek153730
Hancock146829
Lyon145841
Allamakee145646
Iowa144423
Appanoose139147
Grundy139030
Jefferson138232
Winnebago138230
Cass134151
Calhoun133711
Mitchell130840
Louisa128241
Union126331
Chickasaw125213
Sac124218
Emmet121240
Shelby121033
Franklin118419
Humboldt117425
Guthrie116528
Palo Alto104921
Montgomery103936
Howard103121
Clarke100520
Unassigned9890
Keokuk98129
Monroe93128
Adair91928
Ida91032
Pocahontas85519
Davis82623
Monona81627
Greene77310
Lucas73821
Osceola70514
Worth6987
Taylor66412
Fremont5919
Decatur5789
Van Buren55918
Ringgold52020
Wayne48821
Audubon4869
Adams3264
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