DHS doles out $80 million to boost security of driver’s licenses, IDs
Fiscal year 2008 awards from the department’s REAL ID Demonstration Grant program will fund state-specific projects such as improving the physical security of licenses, upgrading facility security and modernizing document imaging and storage, according to DHS. Funding also will be provided for the development and testing of a verification hub that will enable states to query federal and nonfederal document-issuing authorities and verify applicant source documents.
“Americans overwhelmingly want secure identification, and this funding will help those states working to provide it,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said. “We’ve made it more affordable for states to implement REAL ID by dramatically cutting costs and providing various and considerable funding options, and we’re requesting additional funding next year.”
The REAL ID program addresses a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to enhance the security, integrity and protection of licensing and identification systems across the country. More than $58 million previously have been allocated for state-specific implementation projects that facilitate REAL ID compliance, according to DHS.
Each of the 48 states and territories that applied for fiscal year 2008 REAL ID Demonstration grants will be awarded a portion of the available funding. Awards are based on an application’s overall effectiveness in meeting criteria identified in the grants application kit, and the number of driver’s licenses and IDs issued. Projects will focus on achieving material compliance, such as collecting applicants’ photos at the start of the application process and incorporating additional physical security features into driver’s licenses and IDs, according to DHS.
Other funded projects that advance REAL ID implementation include transitioning to centralized driver’s license and ID production, improving data records for driver’s licenses and upgrading source document imaging and storage, according to the department.
Missouri to lead development of verification hub
DHS noted that it has pledged to fund in this grant cycle the implementation of a verification hub to be built and governed by the states. The hub will act as a central router to provide timely, accurate and cost-effective verification to motor vehicle departments of an applicant’s source documents, according to DHS.
The aim of the hub is to enable states to seamlessly verify the identity, lawful status and social security number of an applicant through the common interface.
DHS has awarded $17 million to Missouri to lead the development of the verification hub. Four other states – Florida, Indiana, Nevada and Wisconsin – will receive $1.2 million each to partner with Missouri for verification hub testing and implementation. Other states and territories eventually will connect to the verification hub and have the capability to verify applicants’ source documents, DHS noted.
Thee investments are essential to reducing and impairing the use of stolen, borrowed, altered or counterfeit source documents widely used to obtain state-issued documents, according to DHS. For more information on the REAL ID Demonstration Grant program, or to learn more about REAL ID, click here.