Deadline for Real ID at bases pushed back

  • Senior Airman Philip Sneed uses a Defense Biometric Identification System to scan an identification card at the Boniface Gate at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. A previously announced July 10 deadline requiring Real ID Act-compliant identification to enter military bases has been extended to January 2018 after a waiver was granted by the Department of Homeland Security. (Photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett/U.S. Air Force photo)

Now that Alaska was granted a Department of Homeland Security extension for Real ID Act compliance, Alaskans will be good to go for air travel and entry to secured federal facilities by using their state driver’s license or identification.

Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson announced that enforcement of Real ID will not begin until Jan. 22, 2018. This replaces a previous announcement that JBER would only accept Real ID-compliant identification and not state drivers’ licenses after July 10.

“This date (Jan. 22, 2018) will coincide with TSA (Transportation Security Administration) enforcement,” said Joshua Jasper, a JBER public affairs spokesman.

The installation is following the guidelines that are set forth by Department of Homeland Security. The DHS website states: “Alaska has an extension for Real ID enforcement, allowing federal agencies to accept driver’s licenses and identification cards from Alaska until Oct. 10, 2017.”

Oct. 10 is the start of a “grace period,” Jasper said, that will last until Jan. 22, 2018.

The rest of Alaska will be on the same schedule as JBER, said Leslie Ridle, the deputy commissioner of the state Department of Administration. The department oversees the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles, which isn’t yet set up to create or issue Real IDs. Estimated costs for the entire project are $1.5 million, Ridle said.

“I want to make sure Alaskans know they have up to October 2017 for sure, and then after, when they can continue to use their Alaska driver’s licenses,” Ridle said.

In September, the Alaska Department of Administration will again apply for a waiver that should carry residents through another year of Real ID exemption without having to obtain a passport that would comply with the act.

The department applied for a waiver from the DHS earlier this spring and it was granted. This allows the state time to install the equipment necessary to begin issuing Real ID by the federal deadline of October 2020.

Since Congress enacted the Real ID Act on May 11, 2005, the rollout was divided into four phases, recognizing that “some states must change their laws to comply with the Real ID Act,” DHS explains on its website. “It is also designed to provide an opportunity for members of the public to learn more about the implications of not having a real ID-compliant license so that individuals have an ample opportunity to replace their pre-Real ID licenses with new compliant licenses or to obtain another acceptable form of identification.”

Ridle said receiving another extension past January 2018 should be a formality in the fall.

“As long as we show we are compliant, that we are making progress, DHS grants the waiver,” she said.

A June 21 letter from DHS Secretary John Kelly to Gov. Bill Walker granting the extension outlined the minimum-security requirements necessary for the state’s drivers’ licenses to be converted to Real ID.

The state must “incorporate anti-counterfeiting technology into IDs, preventing insider fraud by those involved in the issuance and production processes, and establish that a person is who she/he claims to be through documentary evidence and records checks.”

“There’s no switch we can turn to be compliant,” said Ridle. “We are setting up systems, computers need to be programmed and that won’t be ready until January 2019. In the meantime, we keep getting extensions. You can use driver’s licenses to get on planes and bases.”

In the current system, a person can walk into the DMV with a passport or birth certificate to obtain a state ID. Under Real ID, that passport or birth certificate will need to be checked against national databases.

Ridle explained the process requires programming DMV computers so they can access the passport, birth certificate and other national databases. The new federal ID format requires specific security features intended to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.

The cards also present data in a common, machine-readable format via bar codes or smart card technology. DHS required the use of RFID chips similar to new bank cards.

In 2018, the DMV will be doing the work of programming and purchasing new equipment, Ridle said. Starting in January 2019, Alaskans will be able to go to the DMV and receive their Real ID cards. Under the law signed by Walker on May 17 that brought the state into compliance with the act, residents will also have an option to obtain a non-compliant ID or driver’s license from the state.

“That will give everyone ample time — about a year and 10 months — to get their cards,” Ridle said. “We’ll ramp up an information campaign to get the message out to the public prior to January (2019) that they will be able to obtain their REAL ID.”

The project’s $1.5 million costs are in the 2018 capital budget, Ridle said, which has not yet been approved by the Legislature. But DMV money is available in its own budget to start toward necessary changes after an operating budget was passed on June 23, she added.


Naomi Klouda can be reached at [email protected].

06/28/2017 - 12:36pm