New Real ID Act pointer system may be modeled after trucker database

A database used to keep track of hazardous-material truckers has been recommended by an informal but influential working group of state and federal driver's license officials as the pattern for a pointer system for information sharing required by the Real ID Act.

Results were announced today of the working group's analysis of how states could meet the Real ID Act's tightened requirements for state issuance of driver's licenses. This is the first time the Real ID Act community has heard what technology is the front-runner to meet one of the law's most important requirements.

The act imposes many new requirements on state motor vehicle agencies and will transform them from driver's license testing organizations to comprehensive identity management bureaus, said speakers at the Information Technology Association America IdentEvent meeting in Fairfax, Va.

Among other requirements, such as verifying the citizenship of driver's license holders, the federal law requires state agencies to ensure that they do not issue multiple licenses or issue licenses to people already licensed in other states.

The working group of state and federal officials, sponsored by the Homeland Security Department, reviewed several possible models for building a system allowing states to compare their records so as to foil attempts to hold multiple licenses, according to Terry Dillinger of Driver Services in the Iowa Transportation Department.

"Instead of issuing a request for information from the industry, we reached out to the Real ID community," Dillinger said of the working group's progress. Issuing an RFI would have taken too long, he added.

The working group determined that a pointer system would meet the needs of the database management system requirement for the Real ID information exchange function, Dillinger said.

A pointer system does not contain the information that other associated database management systems hold, but it does tell users that the associated databases hold the type of information the user is seeking. In this case, a pointer system would not hold complete driver's license records, but it would indicate to a motor vehicle administrator in one state that such information existed in another state's database.

While discussing the issue with organizations such as the National Association of State CIOs and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the working group asked if there were a pointer system or some alternative in existence today, he said.

Group members asked the driver's license experts about the cost of building the system by the Real ID compliance deadline of May 2008, Dillinger said.

"We received the response that the requirement could be met by a modified CDLIS system," Dillinger said, referring to the Commercial Drivers License Information System. CDLIS allows motor vehicle agency officials to retrieve driver's license information and violation histories of truck drivers.

The group sees a need for a common interface to exchange data with immigration officials for document verification, the Social Security Administration for verification of Social Security numbers and to other agencies, Dillinger said.

In a discussion of CDLIS after his speech, Dillinger said it is based on proprietary software and run for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration by AAMVA.

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