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.

Confirmed Cases: 129863

Reported Deaths: 2367
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin33310981
Ramsey13782357
Dakota9541137
Anoka8414150
Stearns566541
Washington546970
Scott329334
Olmsted318330
St. Louis285065
Wright236714
Nobles221916
Clay221443
Blue Earth20207
Carver17437
Kandiyohi16505
Sherburne163421
Rice16059
Mower150315
Winona123618
Crow Wing98021
Lyon9516
Chisago9502
Waseca9229
Benton9107
Beltrami8717
Otter Tail8187
Todd7695
Steele7413
Nicollet71417
Itasca70617
Morrison6948
Freeborn6594
Douglas6473
Le Sueur6145
Martin60616
Polk5964
McLeod5804
Watonwan5764
Goodhue55811
Becker5383
Pine5230
Isanti5195
Chippewa4243
Carlton4111
Mille Lacs38714
Dodge3860
Hubbard3692
Wabasha3590
Cass3575
Pipestone34217
Meeker3223
Brown3163
Rock3154
Yellow Medicine2755
Cottonwood2720
Murray2723
Redwood26911
Fillmore2500
Renville24311
Sibley2433
Roseau2280
Faribault2210
Wadena2153
Unassigned21153
Jackson2071
Houston1951
Kanabec19510
Swift1941
Stevens1771
Lincoln1760
Pennington1741
Aitkin1652
Koochiching1654
Pope1540
Big Stone1320
Lac qui Parle1313
Wilkin1294
Lake1150
Norman1080
Mahnomen1062
Marshall1031
Clearwater1010
Grant924
Red Lake692
Traverse540
Lake of the Woods441
Kittson380
Cook120

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112754

Reported Deaths: 1615
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk18617286
Woodbury704194
Johnson576330
Black Hawk544098
Linn5342129
Dubuque501657
Scott433738
Story394418
Dallas339744
Pottawattamie314844
Sioux236416
Buena Vista224112
Marshall198336
Webster180715
Plymouth161927
Wapello150562
Clinton143026
Muscatine140758
Crawford134414
Des Moines133610
Cerro Gordo131425
Warren12037
Carroll109912
Jasper107034
Henry10325
Marion96310
Lee93110
Tama92737
Delaware74212
Dickinson7217
Wright7101
Boone7039
Mahaska67024
Bremer6559
Harrison63711
Washington63411
Jackson5763
Benton5532
Lyon5337
Clay5144
Louisa51215
Winnebago46619
Hamilton4624
Hardin4606
Winneshiek4609
Kossuth4510
Poweshiek44711
Cedar4375
Buchanan4314
Jones4284
Floyd42511
Emmet42017
Clayton3933
Iowa3918
Cherokee3882
Page3860
Sac3854
Guthrie38015
Franklin37818
Cass3712
Mills3711
Shelby3621
Fayette3604
Butler3592
Madison3533
Allamakee3518
Chickasaw3411
Clarke3393
Humboldt3163
Palo Alto3082
Hancock3064
Grundy2925
Calhoun2904
Osceola2660
Howard2629
Monroe25811
Mitchell2430
Monona2361
Jefferson2311
Taylor2312
Union2234
Appanoose2203
Pocahontas2192
Lucas1986
Fremont1941
Ida1872
Greene1830
Van Buren1672
Davis1654
Montgomery1647
Keokuk1561
Adair1521
Decatur1480
Audubon1411
Worth1370
Wayne1163
Ringgold882
Adams740
Unassigned80
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