A state official key in developing Minnesota's troubled new $90 million computer system for vehicle licensing is no longer working on the project, and the agency is making several changes in management.
Paul Meekin, who was involved with the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), is on a leave of absence, according to the Minnesota Information Technology Department (MNIT), which serves as the technology agency for the state's executive branch. Meekin is still listed on MNIT's website as chief business technology officer for the state Department of Public Safety. He could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.
The state's new $97 million vehicle licensing system has been a huge headache for many Minnesotans, and Gov. Mark Dayton recently apologized for its failures.
Since MNLARS debuted in July, complaints have flooded in from people who say they've waited months to receive vehicle titles or weeks to receive new tabs. Others have been unable to transfer specialty plates to new cars, including handicapped plates.
MNIT said Friday that it's making changes to the project's management structure, including hiring and assigning new officials. It has hired Dana Bailey as executive director of projects and initiatives. Bailey was St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's chief of staff and former senior adviser to Dayton.
It also will replace the software development director; the yet-to-be-named new hire is expected to start next week. Joan Redwing, MNIT's chief enterprise architect, will also be assigned to the project.
On top of the management shake-up, officials plan to hire an outside vendor to work on the driver's license side of the system, including Real ID.
"Minnesotans should know that we are committed to working around the clock to ensure that issues with the current system are resolved, and that Minnesotans are able to access Real ID-compliant licenses in accordance with federal mandates and timelines," said Thomas Baden, MNIT's chief information officer.