I am writing in response to the article regarding glitches to the Driver and Vehicle Services system rollout (“License glitches linger,” Oct. 8). I retired from the state of Minnesota in 2014. For the final 10 years, I was deputy commissioner at the Department of Public Safety. I was the executive sponsor for the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) and I along with many other colleagues worked to get funding for the new system, develop the requirements for the system, and get the project off and running. Here is what I would like the public to understand:
Driver and Vehicle Services collects over $1.2 billion each year for the state of Minnesota. The agency handles thousands of transactions per day that are often extremely complicated. So although $79 million spent on the project to date is a large number, it pales in comparison with what the agency collects on behalf of the state.
The system they are replacing was a 1980s mainframe system that was close to falling apart. The requirements for the new system are extremely complex due to the multitude of state and federal requirements that must be met.
The public is mistaken in believing that the private sector could have installed this system in a more efficient manner. While I was deputy commissioner, we had to discontinue our relationship with two large private-sector technology companies because they could not meet the requirements for this system.
The staff members I worked with and who continue to work on this system are dedicated public servants, many of whom could make much more money in the private sector. Their dedication to public service is what fuels their work. Many of the deputy registrars and licensing agents conducting transactions are small-business owners who have benefited from their relationship with the state. The staff at Driver and Vehicle Services has worked tirelessly to assist them in transitioning to the new system.
In my experience, it is easy for the public to become frustrated with government and lose sight of the complicated nature of the work agencies are asked to perform on behalf of citizens. I trust that once this system is completed, the benefits will far outweigh the difficulties currently encountered.
Mary Ellison is former deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.