DHS setting new deadlines for Real ID

Guidance coming shortly for states to comply

States and territories are getting a reprieve from the looming Dec. 31 deadline for compliance with the Real ID Act drivers’ license standardization requirements. The Homeland Security Department has agreed to extend the deadline for at least 10 states and territories that previously had not informed DHS that they would not meet the deadline. The new deadlines for this group will be determined in the next several weeks, Matt Chandler, deputy press secretary for DHS, said today.

“We did not want to set an arbitrary new deadline,” Chandler said. “We will be working with the states to pick a date.” Guidance will be released shortly, he added.

To date, 46 of the 56 states and territories had informed DHS that they would not be able to meet the Dec. 31 deadline. Those states have been granted extensions for full compliance until May 10, 2011.

Last week, DHS extended the deadline for all states and territories.

In a written statement, DHS officials said they granted the extension in part to avoid disrupting holiday travel. One such disruption would have been difficulties in boarding commercial aircraft. Once Real ID is in full effect, only federally recognized documents, including Real ID-compliant drivers’ licenses, will be eligible for identification purposes in boarding at airports.

On Dec. 16, the National Governors Association wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to extend the Dec. 31 compliance deadline.

“With at least 36 states unable to meet the December 31, 2009, deadline for compliance with REAL ID, action is needed to ensure Americans are able to use their driver’s licenses to board commercial aircraft this holiday season,” the governors wrote in the Dec. 16 letter.

Real ID, which Congress approved in 2005, has been controversial because many consider it an unfunded mandate and a possible threat to privacy. Under Real ID, states must collect personal information from drivers, store the information and electronically share it with other states. More than 20 states have passed legislation or nonbinding resolutions that oppose or reject Real ID.

Napolitano has supported legislation under consideration in Congress known as the Pass ID Act, that would loosen some of the requirements of Real ID.

On Dec. 8, DHS officials announced applications are available for $48 million in grants under the Driver’s License Security Grant Program. The program is intended to help states and territories improve security of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards in order to prevent terrorism, reduce fraud and enhance the reliability and accuracy of personal identification documents.

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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