|Financial Audit Division||Released June 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 defined 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.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the Governor’s stay-at-home order, the VTRS implementation project moved forward this quarter with little disruption. In order to adapt and continue working through these events, the VTRS project team transitioned to a remote work model. In some respects, the effects of COVID-19 included unexpected benefits, such as the delayed enforcement of REAL ID and the opportunity to reduce the “in progress” title work queue, providing more help to the project than harm. Overall, we believe that the project remains on track to meet the timelines established in law.
However, as discussed in this report, OLA remains concerned that migrating data with known integrity issues from MNLARS to VTRS will continue to pose challenges for the project. Additionally, while the risk has been reduced since last quarter, limited staffing resources may place strain on key project personnel.
Our review found two risks and/or concerns that currently do not have complete mitigation strategies:
RISK 1: Moving data from MNLARS to VTRS could be challenging due to existing data integrity issues.
RISK 2: Limited staffing resources may place further strain on key project personnel.
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.