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3 golden objects Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Legislative Auditor - Financial Audit Division

Report Summary
Minnesota Vehicle Title and Registration System
Final Project Audit

 

Financial Audit Division July 2022


This report presents the results of the Office of the Legislative Auditor’s (OLA’s) final audit and retrospective of the Vehicle Title and Registration System (VTRS) projects. Our audit examined the VTRS program—and its related projects—from its initiation in May 2019 to its completion in February 2022. OLA has previously released seven quarterly reviews of the VTRS projects, detailing the status of the implementation and providing a discussion of risks that could have jeopardized the success of the program. The objectives of this audit were to report on VTRS in accordance with legislative mandates that require OLA to audit the implementation of VTRS; review the decommissioning of MNLARS and the legacy driver and vehicle systems; identify risks or concerns for the ongoing maintenance and operations of VTRS; and provide a retrospective of the program, including key lessons learned and best practice recommendations for future projects.1

Conclusions

OLA found that the Department of Public Safety (DPS), Minnesota Information Technology Services (MNIT), and Fast Enterprises, LLC (FAST) successfully launched the Vehicle Title and Registration System (VTRS) and replaced MNLARS following the first system rollout on November 16, 2020. This met the Legislature’s intention to launch VTRS by the end of calendar year 2020. The second phase of the project successfully replaced the legacy Prorate system on October 4, 2021, providing International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and International Registration Plan (IRP) functions for the trucking industry, within the fall 2021 timeline specified by the Legislature.2

DPS, MNIT, and its vendors had decommissioned most Driver and Vehicle Services legacy systems and their components in March 2021. However, they decommissioned the Prorate application in February 2022, after the goal established by the Legislature to have all legacy systems decommissioned by fall 2021.

Our review of project expenditures and remaining estimated expenses shows that DPS is expected to complete Fiscal Year 2022 with approximately $5.9 million remaining in the VTRS project appropriation.

With a modernized, functional, and fully integrated system now in place, the future stability and growth of the system will rely upon the agencies’ abilities to effectively maintain and support the system. We determined that DPS, MNIT, and FAST are well-positioned to maintain and support the system moving forward. Although we did not identify any significant risks that would jeopardize the ongoing maintenance and operations of the system, we discuss in this report a need for DPS to improve its operational support for IFTA and IRP functions and to improve communication of system changes.

Finally, throughout the VTRS project, we noted that DPS, MNIT, and FAST largely adhered to best practices for system implementation and modernization, such as those published in 2017 by the American Association of Motor Vehicles Administrators (AAMVA).  This report highlights eight key factors or practices that we believe contributed to the overall success of VTRS.  However, we also identified six areas in which DPS and/or MNIT could have improved, and we offer recommendations for improvement to DPS, MNIT, and the Legislature. 

The contributing factors and recommendations discussed within this report are based on best practices and our professional judgement gleaned from auditing the project from start to finish, yet they should also serve as lessons learned to aid future large-scale information technology projects.  The direct applicability of these recommendations may depend on the situations and circumstances impacting future projects.  Further best practices, including those published by AAMVA, are referenced in Appendix A of this report.

Key Factors Contributing to the Success of VTRS

Our review identified the following items as key factors that contributed to the overall success of VTRS:

  • Contributing Factor 1:  Project ownership and a commitment to success were present from the highest levels of state and agency leadership down to individual project team members.  (p. 34)
  • Contributing Factor 2:  DPS and MNIT purchased a mature, configurable, commercial, off-the-shelf platform with a proven implementation methodology.  (p. 35)
  • Contributing Factor 3:  The Legislature put into law a requirement for DPS and MNIT to suspend development of MNLARS.  (p. 36)
  • Contributing Factor 4:  MNIT fulfilled its role as a technical advisor to DPS.  (p. 36)
  • Contributing Factor 5:  The Legislature provided the full project budget and gave DPS appropriate spending authority.  (p. 37)
  • Contributing Factor 6:  DPS reserved part of its appropriation as a contingency for future business needs, legislative additions, other changes, or unexpected requests that could have arisen.  (p. 37)
  • Contributing Factor 7:  DPS improved communications with its stakeholders and embedded stakeholder representatives within the project as subject matter experts, testers, and ambassadors.  (p. 39)
  • Contributing Factor 8:  A legislative oversight committee and mandated reporting provided guidance and oversight to the project. (p. 40)

Opportunities for Improvement

We identified the following six areas in which MNIT and DPS did not follow best practices or could have improved upon. Recommendations for improvements are noted both within the body of our report and listed on page 41.

  • MNIT lacks detailed enterprise-wide systems development lifecycle policies and standards.   
  • MNIT and DPS did not adequately track some aspects of the VTRS program.
  • MNIT and DPS underestimated staffing resources needed for project tasks and continued operational support.
  • MNIT and DPS did not ensure that self-service functionality of VTRS met accessibility requirements.
  • MNIT does not provide agencies sufficient guidance for developing and managing IT project budgets.  
  • MNIT has not developed principles to be used during independent audits of state software development projects.

1 Laws of Minnesota 2019, First Special Session, chapter 3, art. 2, sec. 32.
2 Ibid., sec. 35, subd. 7.

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