Lawmakers hear grievances about new MNLARS system

The hearing began with apologies from legislators who believed the new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System was ready for launch when clearly it wasn't.

“I think we all had agreed when the MNLARS system was funded many years ago - with a lot of dollars put aside for it - that we knew the old system wasn't working very well, but I will tell you that most people right now would love to go back to that,” said Rep. Dave Baker.

Over two-and-a-half-hours, they heard stories of the 8-week-old online system--meant to provide government workers and citizens with a website to access state resources and replace the state's aging Driver and Vehicle Services program--that works better, but still not well.

“We’ve had to tell 11 of our dealerships we can no longer work with them…that was one of the hardest things to do,” said Deputy Registrar Gaye Smith.

Deputy registrars were frustrated that the system is slow and buggy, with permanent fixes coming in too slowly.

“This is our workaround, 44 emails of workarounds in a month,” Smith said.

The Department of Public Safety and Minnesota's IT department explained it's a complicated system, and it was never planned to be fully functional at launch.

“We know it's a challenge and we know also that it is temporary," said DVS Director Dawn Olson. "I think if you ask deputy registrars, they'll tell you it's better today than it was 7 weeks ago, but they'll say it's not where it should be. And we agree, we still have plenty of work to do.” 

“Since MNLARS launched, many of our dealers have yet to see a title produced for a new car sale,” said Amber Backhaus with the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association.

The Oversight Committee will continue to look into the issues as employees further adjust the MNLARS system.