Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 22, 2006

Real ID cost: $11 billion over 5 years

Filed under: State and Local HLS,Technology for HLS — by Christian Beckner on September 22, 2006

The National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators released a report yesterday that estimated the five-year cost associated with implementing the REAL ID Act at $11 billion over five years. This estimate is broken down as follows:

  • Re-enrollment of all drivers license & ID holders to meet guidelines: $8.48 billion
  • New processes for verifying applicants: $1.42 billion
  • Drivers license and ID design requirements: $1.11 billion
  • Support costs: $0.04 billion

This analysis goes a couple of levels deeper in the report, providing a fairly rigorous assessment of the costs of REAL ID. And the report offers nine top-level recommendations:

  1. Extend the compliance deadline;
  2. Provide the funds necessary for states to comply with Real ID;
  3. Provide the federal electronic verification systems necessary to comply with the law;
  4. Require states to employ electronic verification systems only as they become available;
  5. Implement a 10 year re-enrollment schedule;
  6. Adopt uniform naming conventions to facilitate electronic verification between files;
  7. Allow reciprocity for persons already vetted by the federal government
  8. Establish card security criteria based on performance—not technology; and
  9. Grant the Secretary of Homeland Security the flexibility to recognize innovation at the state level.

I’ve written in the past that REAL ID is a bad idea, arguing that:

If Real ID is a “de facto” national ID system, then it’s one of the worst possible forms of one: it’s not likely to deliver the potential security benefits of an integrated system; it doesn’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.

This report supports my contention about the lack of national-level economies of scale in the REAL ID model compared with a national ID card.

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