Leaders butt heads over future of MNLARS system

Frustrations with the state's license and registration system are not letting up. Now, officials overseeing MNLARS are asking for millions of dollars more and lawmakers aren't ready to hand it over.

In the latest hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers opened the discussion by playing a recent Fox 9 Investigators piece.

Three years ago, the Governor’s Office was notified that the huge computer project that handles the licensing and registration of all things on wheels was in serious trouble of failing.

In secret recordings, whistleblower Bob Helland told the governor’s then chief of staff that “MNLARS is in danger of becoming a public and political spectacle.”

But apparently there was no follow through.

The governor said the problem is going to go from bad to worse unless lawmakers authorize $10 million this week to keep from laying off staff who are still trying to fix the troubled system.

“We spent $100 million on a half-built project. Unbelievable,” said Rep. Paul Torkelson.

Before they agree to spend any more money on it, Republican lawmakers want to know how MNLARS turned into such a disaster.

“I will get to the bottom of what went wrong,” said Johanna Clyborne, the new commissioner of MNIT, the state’s information technology department.

Clyborne warned lawmakers that additional funding is needed now or MNLARS will continue to misfire for months because repairs will be delayed.

“We can’t take the foot off the gas,” Clyborne said.

But, Republican lawmakers are more inclined to hit the brakes. In fact, they want the state to look at the option of bringing in an outside vendor for a MNLARS redo.