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Published September 16 2010

Mock says Jaeger's keeping North Dakota in the Dark Ages

The Democratic-NPL candidate for North Dakota secretary of state is accusing Republican incumbent Al Jaeger of mismanaging a four-year effort to secure a computer system that would allow businesses to register electronically with the state.

Grand Forks legislator Corey Mock said Jaeger has spent more than

$2 million of taxpayer money since 2006 to get the computer system in place but, after facing various obstacles, still “has nothing to show for it.”

“North Dakota is still one of the few states in the nation where businesses cannot file paperwork electronically,” Mock said Wednesday in Fargo. “Jaeger has mismanaged the project from the beginning and, as a result, North Dakota is stuck in the Dark Ages.”

Jaeger doesn’t dispute that his efforts to get the system in place have been met with setbacks, but he said Mock is taking facts out of context.

Certain things were beyond control, Jaeger said – such as the company responsible for implementing the system facing financial difficulties.

Jaeger said also that he’s regularly reported the progress of the situation to state officials, including a legislative committee that Mock sits on.

“I think we’ve been very transparent, and we’ve reported to everyone that we’re required to report to,” Jaeger said.

But Mock said Jaeger should also have informed businesses that face a delay because of the current paper-only filing system.

Mock cited an instance earlier this summer when the Secretary of State’s Office was experiencing a six-week backlog of processing registrations for new businesses because of the state’s strong economy.

Jaeger said Wednesday that backlog has all but disappeared and registrations are now being processed within a day.

He said the lack of an e-filing system isn’t causing delays in paperwork processing.

“We’re still providing services very well,” Jaeger said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541