|Financial Audit Division||Released February 2021|
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.
In November 2020, DPS, along with MNIT and FAST, (1) stopped using MNLARS, (2) began using the first of two installments of the new Vehicle Title and Registration System, and (3) upgraded the state’s driver licensing system. With these changes, and utilizing the FAST platform, DPS now operates a single, unified, driver and vehicle system known as Minnesota Drive (MNDRIVE). DPS, MNIT, and FAST will continue project work through the fall of 2021, as they add additional features to the system and decommission MNLARS and the legacy motor vehicle systems.
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 the 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 theoversight 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 completed their first major milestone on November 16, 2020, with the initial release of MNDRIVE. The first rollout was completed prior to the legislative deadline and within the defined project budget. Although the rollout was largely successful, the agencies and vendor are working to resolve minor technical problems and functional deficiencies. We discuss the rollout and these issues in this report.
Following the rollout, we noted risks affecting system stakeholders that could impact the success of the project. We also carried forward a risk from our previous quarterly report that requires legislative review and potential action. Finally, we identified an additional concern regarding a shift of work to deputy registrars and the question of adequate compensation. Collectively, OLA assesses these risks and concern as minor given the minimal impact to the project and potential opportunities for mitigation.
Our review found four risks that currently have not been completely mitigated and one project-related concern that requires further examination:
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.