Weather Forecast


Walz asks lawmakers for $15.7 million to fix MNLARS, sets up council on IT

Gov. Tim Walz speaks with reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, after a conference call with opioid manufacturers and distributors. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday, Feb. 7, announced that he'd ask the Legislature for $15.7 million to help fix the state's struggling vehicle registration and licensing system.

The DFL governor in a statement said the request would be aimed at boosting staffing at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services so Minnesotans can get license plates, drivers licenses and vehicle titles faster.

The Minnesota Licensing and Registration System, known as MNLARS, has come under scrutiny as Minnesotans have experienced delays and added difficulties in accessing services since the system's rollout in 2017.

Walz on Wednesday signed an executive order setting up a Blue Ribbon Council on Information Technology. The advisory panel comprised of experts in information technology in the private and public sector are set to advise the Walz administration on how to improve the state's IT systems and keep government data safe. Rick King, Thomson Reuters' executive vice president of operations, is set to chair the council.

“Minnesotans expect reliable, secure and accurate information technology services when they interact with the state," Governor Walz said in a statement. "That is why the Blue Ribbon Council on Information Technology was created, to ensure the people of Minnesota have access to high-quality, dependable services."

The nine members of the existing Technology Advisory Committee are set to join the council along with six IT experts set to be selected by the governor. Majority and minority members of the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate will also join the panel as nonvoting members.

The council will meet for the first time in March.

Walz has not yet appointed a commissioner to lead MNIT. He said he'd asked Kathy Tunheim, CEO of Tunheim Partners, to bring together public and private sector IT experts to screen candidates for the job.