A state official who led Minnesota’s troubled computer system for vehicle licensing has been fired.
The department’s chief business technology officer, Paul Meekin, has been terminated, four months after he was placed on leave. Meekin is not going quietly. He said the success of a government project is never just one person’s responsibility and it’s a disservice to Minnesotans to give the impression that “putting a head on a spike” will fix the problems.
Mankato Democrat Representative Jack Considine disagrees with the firing, and said the problems that have been plaguing the system since last summer were slowly being resolved.
“You know, they finally got to the point where they thought they had it figured out and they were making some advances,” he explained, “You have to get the system back online. You have to get it working. The people across the state need to get their driver’s licenses and their license plates. They had actually cut the waiting time down, they were getting things back on track.”
While Considine doesn’t disagree that changes need to be made, he doesn’t agree with the timing. “Maybe he had to go,” he stated, “But to stop in mid-process and bring things to a grinding halt doesn’t make any sense to me, either.”
The system cost $93 million initially; DPS has asked for an additional $43 million to fix the problems.
A bill moving forward in the Minnesota Senate would give Governor Mark Dayton $7 million of the $10 million he requested to continue work on MN-LARS — but the legislature would also review progress every three months.
Rochester Senator Dave Senjem said, “We lack trust and confidence. I think that’s generally felt across Minnesota. We all get the e-mails. On the other hand, the agency’s got a job to do, they need to do it, and I think we’re offering them the tools.”
Elbow Lake Senator Torrey Westrom said Minnesotans hurt by problems with MN-LARS should be able to make claims, and any citations they received due to delays of license plates or tabs should be dropped. But the Senate committee left discussion of those issues for later.