Remember me… Real ID?
By Cian Cashin
After a bit of a hiatus from the national spotlight, this week the United States House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security drudged out their shovels and raised the specter of Real ID. This was not the incensing inquisition many had expected from a Republican-led House Committee addressing a Democratic administration in an election year. The purpose of the Committee seemed to be to draw definitive answers on two conditions – the status of DHS guidance documentation, and a confirmation that the Department of Homeland Security did NOT plan on extending the deadline for Real ID.
David Heyman, the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Policy for DHS claimed that AAMVA and the states could expect guidance documentation from the Department in “the coming weeks”, (afterwards reported in transcripts as four) and that DHS “has no plans” to extend the deadline on Real ID compliance.
Mr. Sensenbrenner accepted the answers from DHS, and noted that he wanted to have a private discussion with the Secretary on the subject. Secretary Napolitano was scheduled before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Oversight that afternoon reviewing their 2013 budget, so was not expected to attend.
Much of the questioning to panelists regarded why the law has not developed more quickly. David Quam from the National Governor’s Association (NGA) noted that there are two relatively important considerations with respect to Real ID development– the evolution and progression of Real ID between rulemakings and the red herring of PASS ID, and that there has been a lack of guidance, lack of in-place technology solutions, and unrealistic implementation timeline given the lack of guidance on the Act.
Darrell Williams, the former program manager for Real ID, noted points on the technical nature of Real ID, including some of the obstacles facing the program and where he faced his greatest challenges. He also testified on the structural difficulties of expectations in light of a changing dynamic. AAMVA (and its membership) were mentioned by both DHS and NGA as state partners in the effort to offer solutions and guidance where applicable. CDLIS was offered by Mr. Williams as an example of a workable solution that successfully addressed privacy concerns in the context of matching licensing and identity with reliability.
The Committee on both sides sent the message that they have not forgotten or neglected the program. This message, however, needs to be considered in the light of the numerous tangential issues that are inherent components of Real ID – everything from immigration and civil liberties protections to privacy and voter identification. That being said, Real ID remains as politically polarizing as ever, and it may not be something the Republican House wants to press too urgently in an election year. On the other extreme, it may serve as a political card to be played at an opportune time.