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Tribune Editorial: Time to get MNLARS to work for Minnesotans

Minnesota's troubled computer system that processes and issues motor vehicle license plates, registrations and titles is known as MNLARS. It could more aptly be titled MNlaugh for its launch has been a failure.

The launch of MNLARS in July was supposed to be a 21st-century system that would replace the previous 30-year-old system.

The result has been a $93 million investment over nine years that still doesn't work.

The system performance is so bad that the Minnesota Automobile Association's magazine cover this month was titled "MNLARS MESS" with a cover photo of large office of chimpanzees at a desk.

Most everyone - from auto dealers to residents trying to renew a specialty plate to state officials and legislators - agree that MNLARS is not working sufficiently or efficiently yet.

The primary mission should be getting MNLARS into working order as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The finger pointing or responsibility investigations can come later.

First, the MNLARS upgrades are critical because system delays and problems are hurting private businesses and failing to meet resident licensing needs. The MNLARS system is starting to catch up on the backlog of needed transactions, but the system still needs major upgrades.

Second, the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton are facing the immediate need of $10 million for work to continue fixing MNLARS. State officials said if the funding is not made available immediately, contracts would have to be terminated, which would delay badly needed upgrades.

Third, it's time for Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka to get together and collectively figure out a long-term solution to the MNLARS problem. It is time to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

Finally, there is a need to investigate the MNLARS failure and the Dayton administration's role. The Minnesota IT Commissioner has already been replaced. And there is an ongoing internal investigation and audit into this MNLARS debacle to address accountability.

Right now the state must focus on getting MNLARS to work and meet the needs of Minnesotans.

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