Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt on Wednesday launched a new committee assigned with making the state’s technology operations — from issuing driver’s licenses to delivering payments to counties — more efficient and easier to use.
Daudt, R-Crown, said he’s not yet sure what the new committee will focus on first or whether it will be able to come up with wide-ranging plans before the Legislature adjourns in May.
But he said streamlining government operations has been a priority since he became speaker in 2015 and that the new Select Committee on Technology and Responsive Government is the best way to make it happen.
Daudt said the goal is to ensure that the state’s “customers” — its citizens — can easily find information and complete tasks like paying fees or signing up for services.
“I think we have so many opportunities to improve that,” Daudt said, “to shorten the amount of time it takes in those interactions, to make that a more customer-service-oriented process.”
The speaker said the committee will have 10 members — six Republicans and four DFLers — and will be run by Republican Rep. Dave Baker, a small-business owner from Willmar. Daudt said Baker’s expertise in customer service, rather than technology, makes him a good fit for a panel that will make broad recommendations about how the state should interact with people, rather than focusing on the specifics of upgrading the state’s systems.
“I think this is like a big business, a huge business, but it’s something we want to make sure is better if we look at things from the outside once in a while,” Baker said.
Daudt said he expects the group, once assembled, will hear frequently from both Minnesotans and from technology experts. He said he wants the committee to explore efficiency changes made in other states, pointing to Indiana and Illinois as states that have changed some motor vehicle-related operations. But he did not specify which policies Minnesota might want to duplicate.
Daudt said he has ideas about where Minnesota could improve its services. He said he would wait to share them so the new committee does not feel limited in the range of departments and technology issues it could explore.
But he provided one example that shows potential for changes: vehicle titling operations. Daudt noted the process of getting a vehicle title can take weeks but can be sped up if people pay an extra fee. He said the committee could examine how to speed up the process for all vehicle titles, so the speed of the service isn’t determined by how much someone is willing to pay.
The announcement came a day after DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration outlined its plans to spend $125 million to upgrade technology systems and improve the state’s cyber security defenses. Daudt said Republicans in the Legislature agree that defending the state from hackers is important, but they are not yet sure if they support spending that amount of money.
“I just want to make sure that what they’re requesting is what we really need,” he said.