States make case for Real ID help

Several CIOs request more grant funding from DHS to pay for federal mandate

State chief information officers are caught in a tough spot as they prepare to issue driver’s licenses that conform to federal standards. State CIOs say they must search for ways to sell the Real ID program to their legislatures, while they ask for federal grants to pay for that work and other homeland security programs.

“Money is going to be tight going forward due to so many other competing interests,” including health care, said Scott Pattinson, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, speaking at the National Association of State CIOs conference last week in Chantilly, Va., outside Washington.

The Real ID program, which requires states to produce standardized driver’s licenses, could cost states $12 billion to $14 billion in the next 10 years. Congress has not provided additional funding to states to push the program forward, leaving CIOs and others to rely on federal grants.

However, those grants are in danger of drying up, state officials say.
The Bush administration cut the State Homeland Security Program that provides funds for state information technology efforts from $525 million to $250 million. Funding is also limited because the Homeland Security Department will not let states use more than 20 percent of their DHS grant money for the Real ID program.

Governors from Arizona and Minnesota asked the House Budget Committee in late March for $1 billion to implement Real ID in 2007. “Real ID is the daddy of unfunded mandates,” said Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association.

Some states went a step further. Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Montana and Washington voted to reject the Real ID program.

David Temoshok, the General Services Administration’s director of identity policy and management, told state CIOs that federal agencies went through similar funding problems with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12. Agencies solved them by using appropriated funds and other resources.

“The only way we [implemented HSPD-12] in the federal government was by creating a presidential mandate that says, ‘This is what you’re going to do, these are your policies,’” Temoshok said.

State leaders, however, have not wanted to implement Real ID in the same way that federal agencies have accepted HSPD-12.

“The key is the buy-in of each one of these agencies and departments,” said Bernard Soriano, deputy director and CIO of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. “We have to really watch if we get in front of our administration and implement something that our own state hasn’t even agreed to.”

Industry representatives agreed with Temoshok’s assertion that the success of the new driver’s licenses will depend less on Real ID’s back-end infrastructure than on how easy the system is to use.

“They have to really want to use the system, they have to like the system, they have to trust it,” said Kim Cameron, architect for identity and access at Microsoft.

Temoshok cited GSA’s experience as a starting point for implementing Real ID. “States can come in, see how we do it,” he said. “They can see what we did and do the same things, use the same GSA-approved contractors and ask us for any help or guidance they need.”

Some real facts about Real IDThe Real ID program requires states to produce driver’s licenses that meet a new federal standard. It will also:
  • Cost states as much as $14 billion in 10 years.
  • Require states to fund the program using their existing information technology budgets.
  • Be supported by some funding from the State Homeland Security Program, which provides IT grant money. However, the Bush administration cut fiscal 2007 grant funding from $525 million to $250 million. Administration officials have cut the homeland security grants in years past, but each time Congress has restored the funding.
  • Have to overcome resistance from the states. Five states have passed laws rejecting Real ID implementation: Arkansas, Idaho, Maine, Montana and Washington. Other states have discussed similar legislation.
  • Require expensive training of citizens and others seeking driver’s licenses.
  • Meet resistance from civil liberties and consumer organizations that have began a national campaign against Real ID.
— Wade-Hahn Chan

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