The D.C. government has reached a critical point in its struggle to implement a program for notifying the public when rapists get out of prison.

Officials have been scrambling ever since late 1996, when the D.C. Council passed the so-called Megan’s Law to keep tabs on convicted sex offenders. But the difficulties they face are proving intractable, due partly to the way the law was drafted and partly to lapses on the part of some of those charged with making it work.