ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Without additional funding, the Department of Public Safety and Minnesota IT Services announced they will be terminating the contracts for those working to fix the license and registration system, MNLARS, at the end of this month.
Since the system's rollout last summer, it has faced a litany of problems leading to delays for tab renewals, new license plates, and car dealers couldn't sell inventory. Fox 9 reported on secret recordings made in 2015 which gave insight into the future problems.
In January, MNIT and DPS officials stated an additional $43 million was needed for work on the MNLARS system. Earlier this week at a hearing, officials asked to appropriate $10 million in existing Driver and Vehicle Services funds for the MNLARS system. Due to a contractual obligation with the contracted workers, the organizations needed the funding approval by March 1 or otherwise layoff the workers, but before agreeing to allocate any more money toward MNLARS lawmakers wanted to know what went wrong with the implementation of the system.
With no action taken, Thursday evening, MNIT Services Commissioner Johanna Clyborne emailed those workers that their contracts will not be renewed and will expire at the end of the month.
"The loss of knowledgeable contract staff working on the MNLARS system will have a crippling effect on our ability to maintain the pace of progress on system improvements," said Clyborne in the email. "Even if funding is made available in the weeks ahead, it will take a number of months to sufficiently acclimate new contractors to the system so that they can be productive in their work."
The remaining funds will keep the current system running, but will not allow for high priority defects or functionality gaps to be fixed.
But Chair of the House Transportation Finance Committee Rep. Paul Torkelson says lawmakers plan to look over the budget request next week. He stated the Clyborne's announcement doesn't reflect the whole story.
"The mischaracterizations about today's announcement from MN.IT are an unfortunate sign that the Dayton administration is playing politics with this issue rather than working to move forward productively to fix his mess and deliver a DMV system that works for Minnesotans," said Torkelson in a statement.
Commissioner Johanna Clyborne statement
“I understand the Legislature has a hard job to do, however, this system is too important to stop improving, and we need to cross the finish line. We owe it to the people of Minnesota to get this done, and done right.”
Chair of the House Transportation Finance Committee Rep. Paul Torkelson statement
"Like taxpayers, we are disappointed with Governor Dayton's failure to deliver a functioning DMV system, and that his administration has mismanaged their budget. It is my expectation that work will continue on improving MNLARS at its current pace. As was stated repeatedly in public committee hearings and in our three-hour meeting with Governor Dayton's Commissioners and Chief of Staff, the only action taken today was to issue notices that do not take effect until the end of March. Next week, lawmakers will review the last-minute budget request in detail and take action as appropriate."