The New York Times had a front page story on Friday on the challenges that states face in implementing the Real ID Act:
Reacting to the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress passed the Real ID law last year, intending to make it tougher for terrorists to obtain driver’s licenses and for people without proper identification to board planes or enter federal buildings.
But with the deadline for setting up the law two years away, states are frustrated.
They say the law â€” which requires states to use sources like birth certificates and national immigration databases to verify that people applying for or renewing driver’s licenses are American citizens or legal residents â€” will be too expensive and difficult to put in place by the May 2008 deadline. Another issue is the privacy impact of the requirement that states share, through databases, the personal information needed for a driver’s license.
Concerns are so great that last week, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators issued a report saying that the states have not been given the time or money to comply with the law and that they need at least another eight years.
The article goes on to cite a number of examples of states that are struggling with the implementation of Real ID and/or considering ignoring or disobeying its mandates.
The report by NGA, NSCL, and AAMVA mentioned in the story is available at this link. I agree with their assessment of the challenges of implementing Real ID, and it reinforces my belief that we might as well establish a national ID card instead of implementing Real ID, since the latter has all of the costs of a national ID card and few of its benefits. As I wrote a few months ago:
If Real ID is a â€œde factoâ€ national ID system, then itâ€™s one of the worst possible forms of one: itâ€™s not likely to deliver the potential security benefits of an integrated system; it doesnâ€™t save money via national-level economies of scale; it has no clear funding stream; and oversight on privacy issues will be difficult in a 50-state stakeholder environment.
It’s time for Congress to rethink this strategy before hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted.