Governors pressure feds on Real ID funding

Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons are calling on the federal government to issue the long-awaited regulations for the Real ID Act of 2005 and also to pump more money into the program.

In a Sept. 12 letter to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, the two governors asked federal officials to "provide the significant investment necessary to meet the requirements of the federal mandate."

Federal law requires state governments to issue standardized driver's licenses and identification cards to their residents. Regulations for the program are scheduled to be released later this year.

The Homeland Security Department's last update to the program came in mid-July, when it released an implementation plan that included staffing configurations and goals for the next year.

Federal funding currently falls woefully short of the estimates of how much states will have to spend to comply with the act. DHS estimates the 10-year implementation cost for all states could reach $14 billion, with about $1 billion in upfront fees.

The department plans to issue $34 million in grants over the next year to help states implement the program. However, the governors were not happy with using grants for Real ID.

The requirements of the act offer significant opportunities for contractors to tie together state motor vehicle databases and to assist states with new driver's license security features.

"States should not have to choose between our first responders and our motor vehicle operations when obligating funds from this ever-shrinking funding source," the governors said in the letter.

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