Blessed incompetence

I had frankly forgotten about Real ID, the previous administration’s ill-conceived national identity plan. Apparently it’s not quite dead and is being pushed forward by the current administration as Pass ID, according to this ARS Technica article:

Real ID has faced intense criticism from privacy advocates and state governments. The implementation costs are far exceeding Congressional estimates and states are facing enormous technical challenges as they attempt to boost the interoperability of their legacy identity database systems in order to meet the law’s requirements. Not a single state was able to implement the program by the original May 2008 deadline, forcing the government to extend the deadline to the end of 2009.

The new deadline is approaching swiftly and the vast majority of states are still not on track. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona and a vocal critic of Real ID, is said to be drafting a new proposal that will scale back the law’s requirements so that it can be reasonably accomplished by states within the allotted time.

The Washington Post reports that the new proposal, which is called Pass ID, could boost the program’s privacy safeguards and eliminate the costly national database requirements. The law would still require the identity cards to include a machine-readable mechanism. According to the Post, the Obama administration has been in talks with the National Governors Association for months in an effort to devise a reasonable compromise.

The failure of every single state to be able to technically implement Real ID is one of the fortuitous moments of blessed incompetence. I expect the ultimate form of Pass ID to be something like a “Time Served” sentence and we will just call the whole thing done.

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