Napolitano highlights differences between Real ID and PASS ID

Published 17 July 2009

DHS secretary Napolitano, in her previous post a governor of Arizona, opposed the Real ID Act and the mandates it imposes on states; now, as DHS secretary, she is charge of implementing the act; Napolitano offers the PASS ID program as a compromise

We have written many stories about the Bush administration’s REAL ID Act which established minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards that can be used to enter federal buildings and board domestic commercial aircraft.

The real REAL ID has been controversial. Thirteen states have even passed laws barring these states from implementing the Real ID Act. DHS secretary Napolitano — who, in her previous post a governor of Arizona, expressed serious reservations about the scheme — has been making efforts to reform, repel, and replace the REAL ID Act with a plan that state governments can support. The other day she testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to speak about the need to “fix” the REAL ID Act by replacing it with the “PASS ID” program.

During her oral testimony, Napolitano laid out the three major differences between PASS ID and REAL ID.

  • Under PASS ID there is no “blanket requirement to use untested technologies for electronic verification of any and all source documents.”
  • States must electronically verify Social Security Numbers and applicants’ lawful presence in the U.S. using the S-Solve and SAVE [Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements] databases. However, unlike REAL ID, under PASS ID, the checks are free.
  • PASS ID has a different timeline for implementation than REAL ID, which gives states more flexibility, yet moves up the final completion date by 1 year to 2016.