Homeland Security Secretary Puts REAL ID on Back Burner

By David Bruggeman
March 30, 2009

The new Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, indicated on Friday that there were many flaws and problems with the REAL ID law, which is intended to provide for more secure forms of identification. USACM submitted comments back in 2007 outlining our concerns with the program, which would not be as secure or reliable as desired or needed. Several states expressed their objections to REAL ID through legislation, including the State of Arizona and its then-Governor, Janet Napolitano. So the new perspective on REAL ID is not completely unexpected.

Secretary Napolitano is part of a working group coordinated by the National Governors Association to examine possible legislative and/or regulatory changes to REAL ID. Given the privacy and security concerns, as well as the steep price tag states will face under the current program, the status quo with REAL ID seems unlikely. Some states are working on forms of an enhanced drivers license (Washington state has started issuing them) geared toward frequent border crossers, but it’s unclear whether they would be cheaper, more secure, or provide better privacy than REAL ID.