State paid $45K to ex-IT official ousted over MNLARS not to sue

MNLARS was rolled out in July 2017.
The Minnesota Licensing and Registration System was rolled out in July 2017, replacing a 30-year-old system. There were immediate problems, including delays in the processing of license and title transactions.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News 2011

A state official involved with the bungled rollout of Minnesota's vehicle licensing and registration system was paid $45,000 to leave his job without suing, according to an agreement made public Friday.

Paul Meekin was fired last year after the system, known as MNLARS, debuted in 2017 with extensive flaws related to vehicle title and registration transactions.

Meekin had been the chief technology officer at Minnesota Information Technology Services, called MNIT. He was in charge of the nearly $100 million project at the time of the launch.

An investigation commissioned by the state IT services determined that Meekin failed to provide proper oversight of the MNLARS project. Meekin has said it was unfair to make him the fall guy for a project that had a host of problems over the decade the new MNLARS was developed.

Meekin had left open the possibility he would sue. But in June, he settled with the state to avoid any litigation.

The settlement comes without admission of wrongdoing on either side. Meekin was allowed to replace the letter of termination in his personnel with an "irrevocable" letter of resignation.

A highly-critical report released Thursday by the Minnesota legislative auditor identified Meekin as one of the main officials on the project. That report noted a settlement upon his departure; the terms of the agreement were made public after an MPR News records request.

In a written response to the audit, Meekin said he was honored to have worked for the state, and he urged changes to how Minnesota undertakes big IT projects. He said the Legislature could benefit from a greater understanding of technology challenges and a committee devoted to technology issues.

"Your report recommends governance. I agree," Meekin wrote to auditors. "Yet, what is missing — and critically needed — is the Legislature to oversee, be involved and likewise share accountability for the success of state IT."

A second state official whose management was scrutinized by auditors, Susan Rohde, also resigned after the MNLARS launch. She said on Thursday that she hadn't ruled out legal action after what she viewed as efforts to impugn her character.

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