The REAL ID deadline has been extended…again

Three days ago, I read a news item on LinkedIn that stated that the REAL ID deadline might be extended.

I reacted.

My response is a one-word response: “AGAIN?”

I admit to a bit of frustration. For years, some states resisted REAL ID because of federalism concerns. (When MorphoTrak was briefly trying to win driver’s license contracts by competing against our sibling MorphoTrust, I remember one state RFP that explicitly stated that the state would NOT comply with the REAL ID mandate.)

Finally, after hemming and hawing, all of the states agreed to become REAL ID compliant (15 years after the original mandate). Then, as people rushed to get REAL IDs, #covid19 hit and the driver’s license offices closed.

The offices are now open, but some people STILL haven’t gotten REAL ID.

Prediction: if the deadline is extended to 2022, significant numbers of people won’t have REAL IDs by 2022.

Well, I will never get the chance to see if my prediction was accurate, because in the end, the REAL ID deadline was NOT extended to 2022.

It was extended to 2023, according to sources. (As I write this, the DHS website has not yet been updated.)

The Department of Homeland Security will delay the requirement for air travelers to have a Real ID-compliant form of identification, pushing it back 19 months, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday.

The deadline was supposed to be Oct. 1, but it’s now being postponed until May 3, 2023. 

Here’s the rationale that Secretary Mayorkas provided.

“Extending the Real ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a Real ID-compliant license or identification card.”

Of course, since may people object to REAL ID on principle, it could be extended again and again for ANOTHER fifteen-plus years and people STILL won’t get it.

Are you responding to the DHS RFI, “Minimum Standards for Driver’s Licenses and Identification Cards Acceptable by Federal Agencies for Official Purposes; Mobile Driver’s Licenses”?

I already posted about this Request for Information (RFI) on LinkedIn and Facebook, but I wanted to highlight the details of the Department of Homeland Security’s recent request (see PDF or text version).

The RFI delves into a number of questions about treating mobile (i.e. smartphone) driver’s licenses as REAL ID-compliant. The RFI itself states:

DHS invites comments on any aspect of this RFI, and welcomes any additional comments and information that would promote an understanding of the broader implications of acceptance of mobile or digital driver’s licenses by Federal agencies for official purposes. This includes comments relating to the economic, privacy, security, environmental, energy, or federalism impacts that might result from a future rulemaking based on input received as a result of this RFI. In addition, DHS includes specific questions in this RFI immediately following the discussion of the relevant issues.

The RFI can be responded to by any member of the general public, although it is expected that the majority of responses will come from mobile driver’s license vendors and various interest groups. And trust me, there is a wide range of interest groups that are interested in this topic, and in the broader topic of REAL ID in general. Federalism itself is a popular topic when discussing REAL ID.

(Although personally, I believe that if the Federal Government is controlling air travel, and if the Federal Government is…obviously…controlling Federal facilities, then the Federal Government can implement rule-making regarding access. Needless to say, since all 50 states and several territories have adopted REAL ID, the decision has been made.)

While respondents can conceivably talk about anything in their responses, DHS (as noted above) has 15 specific questions to which it is seeking information (see section IV beginning on page 20325). Some are general, such as general questions about security, and some are more specific, such as question 4, which specifically focuses on DHS adoption of requirements derived from “Industry Standard ISO/IEC 18013–5: Communication Interfaces Between mDL Device and Federal Agency, and Federal Agency and DMV.”

Responses to the RFI must be submitted by June 18, and are submitted electronically. (Read the Commenter’s Checklist, and note that DHS prefers that respondents address all 15 questions.) I’m sure that a number of companies and organizations are already starting to think about their responses.

Shameless plug: if you need assistance in managing, organizing, writing, or checking your response, contact me. As some of you already know, I have extensive experience in responding to RFIs, RFPs, and similar documents, and have been helping multiple companies with such responses under my Bredemarket consultancy.