Readers’ Views

MN.IT needs to go

To the Editor:

I have introduced a bill to restructure Minnesota’s information technology agency — MN.IT — after another disastrous public software system rollout caused countless headaches and lost revenue for thousands of Minnesotans and small businesses. My bill will abolish MN.IT as a stand-alone agency and roll its shared core functions, like email and server management, into the Department of Administration. State agencies will then be allowed to consider competitive outside bids for future software development needs.

Minnesotans depend on the state’s IT infrastructure for everything from vehicle licensing and registration, to calculating healthcare premiums, to paying teachers. But state government has a terrible track record in software development, and taxpayers are responsible for millions of dollars in overages with no end in sight. I want to introduce competition so we can pick the best person for each job, just like any other government construction project.

My colleague, Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, notes, “When projects go up in flames, the finger-pointing between MN.IT and state agencies is frustrating beyond belief. No one wants to take responsibility, and when they finally do, it’s too-little, too-late. This bill allows state agencies to take charge of the projects under their purview and creates a clear line of accountability, so someone in state government wakes up every morning with an incentive to do a good job.”

“The botched rollout of the license and registration system was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” adds Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson. “That project has been so badly mismanaged that it’s impossible to fix without an additional cost to taxpayers. Until the new changes in this bill take effect, the legislature will continue to demand accountability from MN.IT and the Dayton administration for every project in the pipeline.”

The bill’s effective date of July 1 will permit MN.IT to continue working on any projects under contractual agreement by that date, allowing for a smooth transition. For future projects, state agencies will have the option to choose MN.IT or an external resource, depending on their needs. Additionally, the Office of the Legislative Auditor will provide periodic evaluations of large IT projects for the purpose of legislative oversight.

State Sen. Julie Rosen

R-Vernon Center