What the future holds for Real ID is about as unsure as the temperature a year from today. However, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has expressed her desire to repeal and replace the $4 billion initiative with a bill that would create the Pass ID initiative. This initiative might be more appealing to those states who have opposed Real ID from the beginning (AK, AZ, GA, ID, LA, ME, MT, NH, OK, SC, WA).
The new plan keeps many of the same elements of Real ID such as a digital photograph, signature and bar code recognition equipment. Federal databases will still need to be utilized to verify status of an individual, however, the demand for new and updated databases will be eliminated. This new plan will in essence penalize states who have recently implemented costly driver's license systems, such as Michigan, California, and New Hampshire, who have spent a total of roughly $60 million to comply with Real ID requirements.
If passed, the Pass Id initiative will provide state governments with more funding options to help implement the necessary hardware and software. With a recession that is worsening by the day, it will be interesting to see where this money will come from and when will it be issued. Some states are in the process of replacing their existing driver's license systems, such as North Dakota, Mississippi, and Illinois. With the potential for more funds, I expect to see these states, along with others, place their projects on hold until the Real ID/Pass ID issue can clear up.
Vendors need to watch this legislation closely as it could possibly rewrite system requirements down the road. States have begun planning for new driver's license systems that are compliant with Real ID. Vendors should begin a dialogue with these agencies NOW in order to position themselves for any changes that may occur to their requirements. Vendors should also expect to see extended use of existing infrastructure should Pass ID become a reality. Costly and complex systems may not be needed as the timeline for the proposed Pass ID is narrow.