Gov. Mark Dayton appointed a top officer of the Minnesota National Guard on Wednesday to become the state's chief information officer, taking over the beleaguered technology agency that serves state government.
Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne, currently director of the joint staff of the Minnesota National Guard, will become commissioner of Minnesota IT Services, known as MN.IT, while maintaining her role in the Guard.
In appointing Clyborne, Dayton looks to a military commander with significant leadership experience to turn around an agency facing public and legislative scrutiny over the failed rollout of a new driver's licensing and registration system that is 10 years and $93 million in the making.
Clyborne will likely enjoy stature from lawmakers incensed by the troubled licensing system, given her distinguished military career, which includes a Bronze Star.
"I will not let you down," Clyborne said at a news conference with Dayton. "And most importantly, I won't let the people of Minnesota down."
Dayton said he is giving Clyborne four main tasks when she begins work in early February: Fixing the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System, known as MNLARS; meeting an October deadline to institute a more secure driver's license that will meet tougher federal standards, allowing Minnesotans to continue boarding commercial airplanes with a state ID; engaging the Legislature to get more money for cybersecurity; and integrating state technology systems that are antiquated and often don't work well together.
Clyborne will continue her private family law practice one day per week.
MN.IT works as a massive contractor for state agencies, providing technology services, while receiving most of its $475 million budget by billing those agencies. For many Minnesota businesses and residents, state agency websites are a key point of contact with government.
The first priority, however, will be MNLARS, Clyborne said: "There is no service that more urgently requires our time, attention and expertise," she said.
Glitches and delays have trickled down to auto dealers, the insurance industry and the local governments and private business owners who run the 174 licensing offices around Minnesota.
The Dayton administration has promised a road map on fixing the MNLARS glitches by the end of January.