Arizona joins test of hybrid ID

Arizona has become the third state to volunteer for a Homeland Security Department program in which it will develop a hybrid identification card that combines a state driver's license with a U.S. border-crossing card.

DHS and state officials announced plans to partner in development of the enhanced driver's license that is expected to meet the department's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requirements and align with future driver's license requirements of the Real ID Act, DHS said in a news release.

'Arizona's new driver's license is poised to be one of the nation's first to comply with Real ID requirements,' said an announcement by the state.
Congress passed the 2005 Real ID Act to set national standards for driver's licenses. DHS released preliminary regulations in February 2006, and the final requirements are expected within weeks or months. The program has been controversial because of its $11 billion price tag and concerns about privacy and security of the personal information.

Interim measures

Beginning sometime in summer 2008, U.S. citizens returning to the United States by land will need to show either a passport or a DHS-approved border-crossing card.

As an interim step, starting in January 2008, a passport, specific border documents or a driver's license with a birth certificate will be required.

Two other states, Washington and Vermont, have announced similar agreements with DHS (GCN.com/835). In Washington, officials intend to deploy a card with an embedded Generation 2 Radio Frequency Identification chip that can be read at distances of 30 feet. The card technology and design have not yet been determined for Vermont, a DHS spokeswoman said.

The Arizona project requires legislative approval, which Gov. Janet Napolitano said she will seek. 'My hope is that this project will lead to an effective permanent program that can be implemented nationwide.'

The identification card to be developed in Arizona will be slightly more expensive than a driver's license and will require proof of citizenship, identity and residence, DHS said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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