Note to DHS: speed up Real ID regs

As Maine and other states dig in their heels against the Real ID Act of 2005, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., called on the Homeland Security Department to move forward quickly to show how the program should be implemented.

"The department's leadership in the coming weeks is crucial to the success or failure of the Real ID program," Davis said in a Jan. 31 statement to the press.

Davis was responding to the Maine State Legislature's approval last week of a resolution asking Congress to repeal the Real ID Act. Maine lawmakers called it an unfunded mandate that will cost the state millions.

Several other states, including Montana, are expected to approve similar bills rejecting the Real ID Act due to concerns about the expense and possible loss of privacy.

The goal of the act is to improve homeland security by tightening procedures by which driver's licenses are issued. Under the law, states must meet national standards for their driver's licenses and issuance processes by 2008, and build a national network to validate the identities of hundreds of millions of driver's license holders. State government organizations have estimated the cost of implementing the Real ID Act at $11 billion.

Davis wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff requesting a briefing on the program.

"Recognizing that the Real ID program was enacted to protect the American people from possible terrorists using drivers' licenses to board planes, open bank accounts and acquire jobs, the refusal of implementation by any state is potentially problematic," Davis wrote to Chertoff. "Because DHS has not issued the congressionally mandated standards for the program, it is important for Congress to learn the status of implementation of the REAL ID Act directly from you and your staff."

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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