State, local Real ID spending to grow

The Real ID Act, which sets new standards for driver's licenses and identification cards, will account for $2.5 billion in state and local government spending through 2012, according to an analysis by market research firm Input.

The act specifies the documentation that agencies must collect in order to issue the cards, and it requires states to verify the documents and keep digital copies.

Governments have until May 11, 2008, to implement the new standards under the law. The federal government will not accept driver’s licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet the minimum standards after that date.

“Varying levels of commitment, progress and spending have been seen across the states, but clearly, 15 months after the Real ID Act of 2005 was passed, there has been more talk than action in terms of implementation,” said James Krouse, acting director of public-sector market analysis at Input, in a written statement. “Once Department of Homeland Security guidance is published and adequate funding is released, Input expects vendors will begin to see traction in the contract area.”

DHS could extend the deadline, and Input believes it likely will, according to the firm's announcement. The agency has delayed issuing important regulations, and forthcoming cost estimates are likely to be "staggering," according to the firm. If states remain responsible for paying most of the costs, Input anticipates that the implementation will go far beyond the deadline, according to the announcement.

“Barring another historic event such as [the 2001 terrorist attacks], it is unlikely the federal government will be able to muster the funding or the public support to force swift implementation of Real ID,” Krouse said. “But if the anticipated adequate funding becomes available, Input projects significant contract opportunities for vendors through 2012.”


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