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Minnesota Gov. Taps Off-the-Shelf Solution to Replace MNLARS

FAST Enterprises was selected to deploy its vehicle services software to replace the Minnesota Vehicle Licensing and Registration System over the next year and a half. The contract will cost the state about $33.9 million.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced his state has signed a contract with FAST Enterprises for a software solution to replace the troubled Minnesota Vehicle Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS).

The selection of FAST Enterprises follows an independent expert review, completed earlier this year, which recommended MNLARS be replaced after an in-depth comparison of the risks between buying a product or continuing development of the in-house system. Walz accepted the findings and signed legislation that directed the Department of Public Safety and Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) to solicit vendor solutions, according to a press release.

FAST Enterprises will deploy its off-the-shelf FASTDS-VS (or vehicle services) software to replace MNLARS. The five-year contract will cost the state around $33.9 million, which is $2 million less than anticipated in the transportation finance bill signed into law by Walz, the release states.

“This contract is the product of a bipartisan process with a simple goal: make sure Minnesotans can get their vehicle titles, license plates, and tabs on time and error-free,” Walz said in a prepared statement. “Not only will this solution produce more efficient results, but this process has also laid a foundation for us to move forward on other critical issues facing our state.”

The replacement will be implemented in two phases. The first phase will encompass vehicle title and registration, dealer services, document imaging and permits and is slated for completion in 16 months. Phase two will bring online functions not available in MNLARS, such as motor carrier functions, which should be finished in 10 months, the release states. Neither deployment will affect current services in the interim.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said the implementation of the new software is the next step in meeting citizen expectations for driver and vehicle services.

“This public-private partnership will help us provide a digital experience Minnesotans should expect from state government,” Harrington said in the release. “Based on their success in implementing the state’s driver’s license system last year, I’m confident that FAST Enterprises will deliver a vehicle system that will serve the needs of deputy registrars, auto dealers and all Minnesotans.”

MNLARS was first under contract with Hewlett-Packard before the state broke ties with the vendor to build an in-house system. Problems quickly arose when the system was debuted in 2017, such as residents being charged the wrong fees, not enough support available for questions and high downtime.

The Department of Public Safety and MNIT will transition to a maintenance model after the phased solutions are active.

“This partnership provides a tremendous opportunity to leverage market-leading technology,” said MNIT Commissioner Tarek Tomes in a prepared statement. “I am excited to see Minnesota embark on a path toward continuous innovation and improvement in the area of driver and vehicle services.”

The commission formed by Walz to study MNLARS found the in-house system to be about three-quarters finished and on track for a 2021 completion date. But the group anticipated a massive hiring in the future to keep MNLARS running and the potential for unexpected problems.

Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.
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