ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the state's IT wizards think they have charted a path to fix the vehicle services nightmare known as MNLARS.
Officially known as the Minnesota License and Registration System, MNLARS was launched in July as an upgrade on the 30-year-old system used to process vehicle title and registration transaction. Instead, it was a train wreck, resulting in massive lines and title backlogs that caused major headaches for dealers, buyers and vehicle owners. Those responsible for the boondoggle were lambasted by lawmakers and the public in a series of hearings at the State Capitol.
In response, state officials convened eight meetings across the state of Minnesota stretching over 1,600 miles, asking for suggestions from more than 100 stakeholders on how to fix the broken system. The result was the MNLARS Roadmap, a project produced in partnership with deputy registrars, auto dealers, financial institutions, legislators, and other stakeholders who use this system each day.
Among the priorities identified by the Roadmap:
- Fixing Bugs and Glitches. Resolving system defects and time-consuming workarounds that are leading to delays and inconveniences for Minnesotans. Example: Building automated tools to ensure the consistent calculation of complex or seasonally-used transactions.
- Filling Gaps in Functionality. Completing partially delivered features.
- Ability to transfer specialty plates, impounded plates, inventory management, and allow deputy registrars to edit transactions. Ability to bulk-update addresses for fleet vehicles.
- Empowering Users. Adding features that will allow system users to make changes and fix mistakes without starting over or having to contact DPS. Adding the ability to print in-process work, transactions, and duplicate titles.
- Adding functionality to MNLARS that existed in the old system, like transferring specialty plates. Adding the ability to edit the cart, scan, and see specific details of all transactions.
- Delivering Faster Title Turnaround. Providing the technology tools needed to speed up processing of vehicle titles.
- Continuing to decrease the number of backlogged titles. Managing title processing system errors more efficiently.
- Modernizing Business Processes. Working collaboratively with local deputy registrar offices to build new features in the system that support a more modern mode of business operations for driver and vehicle services.
- Building ability to add or delete multiple transactions in the cart, without checking out.
- Improving Customer Service. Adding 63 DVS call center staff and five training positions in FY19. The additional call center staff will help DVS improve customer service by responding to emails promptly, reducing wait times and answering the 65,000+ calls it receives each week. It will also ensure the state is ready to answer questions from Minnesotans leading up to REAL ID availability in October 2018. The five trainers will work with Driver License Agents on the new driver’s license system and REAL ID requirements.
- Phone calls from the public and stakeholders increased during the MNLARS rollout, peaking at 110,000 during the week of September 10. Email response times were as high as six weeks due to the influx of consumer questions and issues.
- Stabilizing and Optimizing System Performance. Ensuring that each piece of the system is operating efficiently and working optimally to support heavy use.
- System slowdowns during daytime when system is under heavy use.
- Improving User Experience. Making the system more user friendly and tailored to the needs of local deputy registrar offices.
- Modifying the way the system looks and feels to more closely align with deputy registrar needs. Enhancing screen colors and formatting based on user feedback.
“This roadmap reflects the top priorities and conversations that our technical team had with stakeholders, as well as a core understanding of underlying structural fixes necessary to be fully functional,” said MNIT Chief Enterprise Architect Joan Redwing. “We will continue to work on the back-end to stabilize MNLARS, but we’re focused on addressing the issues that directly impact Minnesotans first.”In conjunction with these stakeholder meetings, MNIT completed a deep technical assessment of the MNLARS system and an inventory of all remaining system defects and gaps in functionality."
The architects of the Roadmap also make it clear that the improvements cannot be made on the current level of resources. They will ask legislators for an additional $43 million during the approaching session so MNLARS can be fixed and improvements made by December of 2019.
“I thank the more than 100 deputy registrars, auto dealers, financial institutions, legislators, and other stakeholders, who worked with Minnesota IT Services and the Department of Public Safety to develop this comprehensive roadmap to fix MNLARS," remarked Governor Mark Dayton. "The people and businesses of Minnesota deserve the quality, timely services this roadmap promises to deliver. We will not rest until we get this done right, and Minnesotans should expect nothing less.”
To view the entire MNLARS Roadmap report, click here.