OMB reviewing revised Real ID standards

After taking public comments into account, Homeland Security Department officials have submitted a revised set of minimum federal standards that states must meet when issuing driver's licenses and identification cards to satisfy the Real ID Act of 2005.

And although the Office of Management and Budget will now have 90 days to review the rules, it likely will not take that long, said Darrell Williams, director of DHS' Real ID Program Office. The review process should be shorter because the department has been keeping OMB in the loop on changes made during the public-comment process, he said at a Nov. 29 event hosted by the Information Technology Association of America and Northern Virginia Technology Council.

Williams said the 21,000 comments his office received on the original standards proposed in March ran the gamut.

Although DHS officials have touted the measure as crucial to fighting terrorism, privacy advocates worry about how data will be shared and stored. At the meeting, Williams said those critics misunderstood what Real ID plans to do. The program will improve privacy rather than diminish it, he added.

Williams also said DHS has no plans to compile a national database and that states would retain control of motor vehicle department records.

States are also concerned about how they will fund the project. Williams said progress had been made in making funding available for states to begin infrastructure improvement before the rule is finalized.

A final rule will be good news to companies that work in ID security because many states have been reluctant to move forward with upgrades to their ID systems, said Jeremy Grant, a senior vice president at the Stanford Group who follows the sector closely and attended the Nov. 29 panel discussion.

"The regulations coming out will automatically take back the restraint that's been holding back the market," he said.

Ben Bain writes for Federal Computer Week, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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