MNLARS insanity

Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

State lawmakers should keep this in mind as they ponder the idea of giving another $43 million to the people who have already spent nearly $96 million on the Minnesota License and Registration System, or MNLARS.

MNLARS was supposed to replace the 30-year-old computer system that the Department of Vehicle Services used for handling drivers licenses and motor vehicle registrations. “When finished, it will be an efficient, secure Web-based system for driver’s license, identification card and vehicle registration and ownership transactions,” the DVS’s website proclaims.

When the car registration and title portion was rolled out this past summer, years past its deadline and nearly double its $48 million budget, it was, in automobile parlance, “a lemon.” It didn’t work well at all. It’s still not working that well. And this summer the drivers license part of the system is supposed to start up. We’re sure we can’t wait.

Now, after dozens of statewide meetings, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has developed a “Roadmap” for fixing and improving MNLARS. It includes things like “fixing bugs and glitches,” “stabilizing and optimizing system performance” and one we really like: “Adding functionality to MNLARS that existed in the old system” — that is, make it do what you could do on the 30-year-old system.

The cost for all this, the DPS says, is $43 million, nearly as much as the whole shebang was supposed to cost in the first place.

Insanity, in this case, might be defined as giving more money for MNLARS repairs to the people who overspent to develop this wretched mess in the first place.


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