The facts be­hind a com­plex state li­cens­ing sys­tem

Star Tribune - - EDITORIALS READERS WRITE - By MARY EL­LI­SON Mary El­li­son is for­mer deputy com­mis­sioner of the Min­nesota Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety.

I am writ­ing in re­sponse to the ar­ti­cle re­gard­ing glitches to the Driver and Ve­hi­cle Ser­vices sys­tem rollout (“Li­cense glitches linger,” Oct. 8). I re­tired from the state of Min­nesota in 2014. For the fi­nal 10 years, I was deputy com­mis­sioner at the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety. I was the ex­ec­u­tive spon­sor for the Min­nesota Li­cens­ing and Regis­tra­tion Sys­tem (MNLARS) and I along with many other col­leagues worked to get fund­ing for the new sys­tem, de­velop the re­quire­ments for the sys­tem, and get the project off and run­ning. Here is what I would like the pub­lic to un­der­stand:

Driver and Ve­hi­cle Ser­vices col­lects over $1.2 bil­lion each year for the state of Min­nesota. The agency han­dles thou­sands of trans­ac­tions per day that are of­ten ex­tremely com­pli­cated. So although $79 mil­lion spent on the project to date is a large num­ber, it pales in com­par­i­son with what the agency col­lects on be­half of the state.

The sys­tem they are re­plac­ing was a 1980s main­frame sys­tem that was close to fall­ing apart. The re­quire­ments for the new sys­tem are ex­tremely com­plex due to the mul­ti­tude of state and fed­eral re­quire­ments that must be met.

The pub­lic is mis­taken in be­liev­ing that the pri­vate sec­tor could have in­stalled this sys­tem in a more ef­fi­cient man­ner. While I was deputy com­mis­sioner, we had to dis­con­tinue our re­la­tion­ship with two large pri­vate-sec­tor tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies be­cause they could not meet the re­quire­ments for this sys­tem.

The staff mem­bers I worked with and who con­tinue to work on this sys­tem are ded­i­cated pub­lic ser­vants, many of whom could make much more money in the pri­vate sec­tor. Their ded­i­ca­tion to pub­lic ser­vice is what fu­els their work. Many of the deputy reg­is­trars and li­cens­ing agents con­duct­ing trans­ac­tions are small-busi­ness own­ers who have ben­e­fited from their re­la­tion­ship with the state. The staff at Driver and Ve­hi­cle Ser­vices has worked tire­lessly to as­sist them in tran­si­tion­ing to the new sys­tem.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence, it is easy for the pub­lic to be­come frus­trated with govern­ment and lose sight of the com­pli­cated na­ture of the work agen­cies are asked to per­form on be­half of ci­ti­zens. I trust that once this sys­tem is com­pleted, the ben­e­fits will far out­weigh the dif­fi­cul­ties cur­rently en­coun­tered.

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