Report: official knew of vehicle licensing system problems

Published 7:15 am Friday, April 6, 2018

ST. PAUL — An outside investigator has found that the information technology official overseeing Minnesota’s troubled vehicle licensing system was aware of numerous issues but failed to address them.

An investigation by Everett & VanderWiel law firm found that Paul Meekin didn’t fulfill expectations related to pre-launch testing and management responsibilities, such as communication and staffing, Minnesota Public Radio reported. The firm interviewed Meekin and 20 other people considered witnesses.

Minnesota IT Services launched the $93 million Minnesota Licensing and Registration System, or MNLARS, in July. The system immediately faced problems, including processing delays for license and title transactions.

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Meekin was informed that testing might not be completed before the system’s launch and “did not exercise reasonable diligence in addressing the concern,” according to the report. Investigators found that Meekin didn’t provide meaningful oversight, fostered an environment that didn’t allow for decisions to be questioned and didn’t have enough state employees.

Meekin said he didn’t know of the system’s code problems prior to its launch. Making one person solely responsible for the system’s problems will only result in more IT issues, he said.

“The underlying premise that fueled this investigation — that the success of a large-scale IT project like MNLARS rests in the hands of one person — is fundamentally flawed,” Meekin said. “This report underscores the governor’s office and Legislature’s unwillingness to look at the real and serious systemic issues that plague State IT projects.”

Minnesota IT Services fired Meekin last month as the agency’s chief business technology officer. He was on leave from the position since November.