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Minnesota hires company to replace troubled MNLARS system

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Donny Vosen, a deputy registrar in Brainerd
Donny Vosen, a deputy registrar in Brainerd, speaks to a Senate committee about the problems with MNLARS in November 2017.
Glen Stubbe | Star Tribune via AP

Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday that the state has hired a Colorado-based technology company to replace the troubled Minnesota Licensing and Registration System, also known as MNLARS.

The state contract with Fast Enterprises will provide the new system, which will be known as Vehicle Title and Registration System or VTRS. The company will use off-the-shelf software rather than build the new system from scratch. Fast Enterprises was the only company to respond to Minnesota’s Request for Proposals in June. 

The company had already been doing business with Minnesota on the system for issuing new drivers’ licenses that comply with the federal Real ID law.

Legislation enacted earlier this year allocated $53 million and raised fees to pay a private vendor to make the switch from MNLARS to VTRS. The legislation was based on the recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel that Gov. Tim Walz named to address the lingering MNLARS issues.

Earlier MNLARS soon to be replaced by VTRS

Under the newly-signed, five-year contract, the cost of the system will actually be $33.85 million.

Walz said he expects the company to deliver a system that works for Minnesota.

“This contract is the product of a bipartisan process with a simple goal: make sure to make sure Minnesotans can get their vehicle titles, license plates and tabs on time and error-free.” Walz said.

Background Walz backs scrapping MNLARS, starting over with new software

Problems with the MNLARS system, including transaction delays and fee inaccuracies, began soon after its launch in 2017. The Office of the Legislative Auditor issued a report in February that said the state’s public safety and information technology departments didn’t provide enough oversight of MNLARS.

As spelled out in statute, the new VTRS system is expected to launch by the end of 2020. The full implementation, along with the decommissioning of MNLARS is expected by fall of 2021.