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Report claims MN IT official knew of vehicle licensing system problems

The dysfunctionality of Minnesota’s $93 million vehicle licensing system has been pegged as no accident. According to an outside investigator hired by the state’s information technology department, Paul Meekin—the chief business technology official who oversaw the system’s launch—“knew there were numerous defects prior to its launch last summer but failed to address them,” as reported by MPR News.

The report says Paul Meekin, who was officially fired from his job at Minnesota IT Services last month, fell short of expectations related to pre-launch testing and several key management responsibilities, including communication and staffing.

The $93 million Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) was rolled out on July 24, 2017, replacing a 30-year-old system. There were immediate problems, including delays in the processing of license and title transactions.

As my colleague Tom Steward wrote here, the trouble-ridden debut was not a good look for the system that is tens of millions of dollars over budget and years late in development. Especially since it will require a $43 million “fix.”

The investigation confirmed Meekin’s role in the man-made disaster also included failure to properly oversee his departments.

Investigators concluded that Meekin failed to provide “meaningful oversight,” fostered an environment where “decisions could not be questioned or challenged” and failed to have an adequate number of state employees who could work with contractors and “discharge managerial functions relating to MNLARS.”

On the staffing point, the report described it as “not in keeping with the expectations resting on him as an IT executive.”

Meekin has pushed back against the disputes in the report and its conclusions, saying “it is not fair to blame him for the failings of MNLARS given the layers of people involved in making decisions.”

Minnesota IT Services has been cleaning house since Meekin’s departure. Governor Dayton appointed a new commissioner, and MNLARS has a new chief enterprise architect. And apologies were issued by Dayton and other officials for the system’s failures.

But secret recordings given to Fox 9 Investigators reveal the Governor’s office was notified three years ago that “the project was headed for a cliff.”

 

Note: A redacted copy of the 108-page investigative report can be viewed here.

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