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Auditor's report assigns blame for MNLARS debacle

A report released Thursday says the $100 million and nine years devoted to developing the MNLARS system should have been sufficient to successfully complete the project.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota's legislative auditor says two state agencies must share the blame for the troubled and expensive 2017 rollout of a new driver's license and vehicle registration system known as MNLARS.

A report released Thursday says the $100 million and nine years devoted to developing the MNLARS system should have been sufficient to successfully complete the project. Instead, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the office of Minnesota Information Technology (MNIT) requested an additional $43 million from the legislature in late January 2018 to address remaining issues with the system. Lawmakers eventually agreed to spend an additional $9.65 million on MNLARS.  

After a thorough look at the shortcomings and problems that plagued MNLARS auditors laid most of the blame on leaders at the Department of Public Safety and Office of Minnesota Information Technology Services.

RELATED: MNLARS audit finds some overcharged or undercharged

But the report also says many factors, not just a single person or decision, contributed to the botched launch. It says the problems started early with a private vendor that was terminated for unsatisfactory work. State agencies then decided to build MNLARS in-house, but auditors say they failed to take sufficient steps to ensure that the large and risky project would succeed.

RELATED: MN could run out of funds to fix DMV system

“I find the legislative audit to be troubling, frustrating, but not altogether surprising," said Senator Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), chair of the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee, in a released statement. "From the beginning, the state of Minnesota was not equipped to handle a project of this scale and, even when confronted with that reality, state officials kept the project moving toward release. The audit makes clear where the problems lie: ineffective leadership and state agencies lacking the proper oversight, guidance, and technical ability for such a massive project."

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