|Financial Audit Division||Released March 2020|
The 2019 Legislature directed the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) to replace Minnesota’s Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) with a vendor-produced software application, following the recommendations of the Independent Expert Review of MNLARS.1 The law outlined an aggressive project timeline for the new Vehicle Title and Registration System (VTRS), with an initial launch by the end of calendar year 2020. The law also required full implementation of VTRS and a complete decommissioning of MNLARS and the legacy motor vehicle systems by the fall of 2021.
The Legislature identified DPS as the owner of VTRS and made the agency responsible for the final decisions on functionality. MNIT is the technical lead on the project and is responsible for the final decisions on the implementation of technology products, services, and staffing. DPS and MNIT awarded the VTRS contract to Fast Enterprises, LLC (FAST) on June 27, 2019, and signed a contract for both software and implementation services on August 7, 2019. FAST also supplied the state’s driver licensing system, which went live on October 1, 2018. Upon completion of the VTRS implementation project, the state will have accomplished what was the original vision for MNLARS—a single, unified driver and vehicle system—now collectively known as Minnesota Drive or MNDRIVE.
The 2019 Legislature dissolved the MNLARS Steering Committee and created the Driver and Vehicle Systems Oversight Committee.2 The new committee is responsible for overseeing the VTRS project and the decommissioning of MNLARS and the legacy motor vehicle systems. The law requires DPS and MNIT to provide quarterly updates to the oversight committee. The law also requires the Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) to provide quarterly reviews on project implementation, stakeholder engagement, and MNLARS decommissioning. For each of these areas, the law requires OLA to identify any concerns or risks that could jeopardize the project.
Complex computer system development projects are fraught with technical and nontechnical risks. As the project leaders, DPS and MNIT are responsible for continuously assessing risks and developing appropriate mitigation strategies. DPS and MNIT also are responsible for keeping the Driver and Vehicle Systems Oversight Committee apprised of both project status and risks. In these quarterly reviews, OLA intends to assist the oversight committee by reporting on risks that do not have mitigation strategies that are commensurate with the underlying risks.
OLA intends to carry forward and update risks from previous quarters, unless we believe the agencies have sufficiently minimized those risks. We will incorporate newly identified risks, so that each new quarterly report will represent the current condition.
DPS, MNIT, and FAST continue to be on track to meet the VTRS project implementation deadlines in law. However, as discussed in this report, OLA remains concerned that new legislative requirements still have potential to put the project timeline in jeopardy. Additionally, while improved over last quarter, the decommissioning project lacks a detailed budget and plans for the decommissioning of components replaced by the second rollout of the VTRS project.
OLA has also identified a new risk pertaining to staffing resources that, if left unaddressed, could affect project deliverables.
Our review found three risks and concerns that currently do not have complete mitigation strategies:
RISK 1: New legislative requirements could impact the ability to complete the VTRS project on time and within the budget.
RISK 2: Moving data from MNLARS to VTRS could be challenging due to existing data integrity issues.
RISK 3: Limited staffing resources may place further strain on key project personnel.
RISK 4: MNIT’s decommissioning plans lack timelines and tasks necessary to retire functionality and data relevant to the second rollout of VTRS. These plans also lack estimated costs for resources needed to complete the work.
1Laws of Minnesota 2019, First Special Session, chapter 3, art. 2, sec. 35.
2Laws of Minnesota 2019, First Special Session, chapter 3, art. 2, sec. 34.