with federal standards. Additionally those born prior to Dec. 1, 1964, will not be required to obtain a Real ID-compliant license until 2017, a move DHS says reduces the estimated compliance cost to states from $11 billion to $3.9 billion.

But Meadows has already found a lot to be disappointed with. He said that, despite the concessions, DHS didn't heed a number of other requests from states. Funding and privacy concerns appear to have gone ignored.

"Even if we accept the [Homeland Security] Department's new cost estimate of $3.9 billion, that's still $3.9 billion," said Meadows. "One of our requests of the department was that certain populations be exempted from the Real ID process, such as people who have already been vetted by the federal government, namely people who already have passports or military IDs who are going to be able to use those forms of identification for all of the official purposes that a Real ID is going to be used for -- boarding aircraft, entering federal buildings, etc. And they didn't do that."

Meadows said the NCSL, as well as organizations like the National Governors Association (NGA) and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), had hoped citizens already granted a passport or military ID would be able to skip the enrollment process required by Real ID, which requires every citizen to appear in person at the DMV -- a crush of humanity the motor vehicles offices are ill prepared for, as well as the millions now accustomed to managing such affairs online.

Questions also loom about states that have passed laws requiring nonparticipation in Real ID. The final regulations may go a long way toward bringing such states back into the fold -- but they still may not be enough, especially for states such as New Hampshire and Nevada whose residents pride themselves on independence and a tradition of states' rights.

"The good news is that DHS seems to have listened to some of the recommendations of the states and what it may take to move Real ID from the improbable to, at least, the possible," said David Quam, director of federal relations for the NGA. "But every state has to evaluate its situation to see if these rules match up to reality. Those states are going to have to look at the decisions they've made and determine whether to make a change. But that is ultimately going to be up to them. They've made some very strong statements, and as of right now I haven't heard of anyone changing."

Technical Hurdles
Technology continues to present challenges as well. As they exist today, DMVs generally can't share information with other states effectively. However, there is a promising solution that could make such information exchange possible without the need for a national database, which many fear would be a cyber-terrorist's dream come true.

A couple dozen pages into the massive final regulations document, DHS outlines a strategy to utilize an existing system called the Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS). CDLIS, according to DHS, "currently supports queries to every state DMV every time an individual applies for a driver's license in any state or the District of Columbia. CDLIS already meets the data exchange requirements of Real ID for those drivers holding commercial drivers' licenses. Moreover, CDLIS is a secure, state-governed system that stores the minimum amount of personal information possible to facilitate the routing of queries and responses between states. DHS is considering an effort to define system requirements for Real ID state-to-state data exchanges based upon the CDLIS model or platform."

Such a system is promising, according to Brendan Peter, senior director of LexisNexis special services and chair of the Information Technology Association of America's (ITAA) subcommittee on identity management. Peter said CDLIS should quell concerns about information being vulnerable because data

Chad Vander Veen  | 

Chad Vander Veen is the former editor of FutureStructure.