Pointer system could speed Real ID info sharing

Given the May 2008 deadline, the best option is to adapt existing technology to help state DMVs share data, an advisory group decided.

The Real ID Act, which establishes national standards and physical security features on driver’s licenses, requires states to share information in their effort to identify and crack down on individuals trying to get multiple licenses from different states.

That would mean connecting the department of motor vehicles (DMVs) in the 50 states and Washington, D.C., through an electronic system. But how would it operate and what would it look like?

Jonathan Frenkel, director of law enforcement and information sharing policy at the Homeland Security Department, which is drafting regulations that states would need to comply with the law, created a working group of state government experts this summer to advise the department on that question.

Terry Dillinger, director of driver services at Iowa’s transportation department, said the group decided that a pointer system, similar to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS), would be the most effective way to do that. Dillinger said the group conferred with many other advocacy groups to come to its decision.

Before issuing a commercial driver’s license, a DMV official can query the CDLIS to obtain information about an applicant. If a match is found, the system directs the DMV official to the state where more detailed information about the driver can be found. The system was implemented to ensure that each commercial driver had only one license and one record.

Bernard Soriano, deputy director and chief information officer at California’s DMV, said the working group looked at various options including whether something new could be developed. He said the May 11, 2008 deadline imposed by the Real ID Act was the driving force in deciding what would be the most feasible option.

He said DHS would have to decide to analyze the options, create the regulations and take the next steps. But he said the working group would continue to communicate with DHS on the issue.

The Real ID Act would impose uniform driver’s license standards nationwide and include biometrics and machine-readable technology.

Sarkar is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

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