Official who led troubled state licensing system fired

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018

ST. PAUL — A state official who led Minnesota’s troubled computer system for vehicle licensing has been fired.

The Department of Public Safety’s chief business technology officer, Paul Meekin, was terminated Friday, four months after he was placed on leave. Meekin was the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System’s project director in 2009-10 and was part of the project’s steering committee.

The $93 million system has been plagued by problems since it went online last summer. Residents have had long waits to receive vehicle titles or new tabs, while others have been unable to transfer specialty plates to new cars.

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But Meekin isn’t going quietly. He said the success of a government project is never just one person’s responsibility, and accused Gov. Mark Dayton’s office and the Legislature of “finger pointing and blame assigning” instead of finding solutions.

“It’s a disservice to the people of Minnesota to give the impression that by putting a head on a spike, the problem will be solved,” Meekin said.

The department is asking for another $43 million to fix the problems. Issues with the system’s functionality will continue without new funds and additional planned features won’t be able to be put in place, according to the state agencies overseeing the project.

A Senate panel on Monday approved a measure providing $7.3 million to help fix the system. Lawmakers are reviewing whether the state can continue trying to build its own system or if it should hire a private company to oversee the work.

“I don’t think that there is any question that we’re going to have to spend more money,” said Senate Transportation Chairman Scott Newman, a Republican from Hutchinson. “The real question is: What are we going to spend it on?”