By Jill R. Aitoro 12/18/09 04:26 pm ET
After months of speculation, the Homeland Security Department officially moved back the compliance deadline for Real ID, which requires states to issue licenses that meet federal security standards.
In a statement released on Friday afternoon, Deputy Press Secretary Matt Chandler said, "In order to ensure that the millions of Americans traveling this holiday season are not disrupted," DHS would extend the required Dec. 31 Real ID material compliance deadline, which required states to meet 18 interim benchmarks that support the regulation. The criteria include improvements in driver's license and ID card physical security, authentication of source identity documents and protections of applicant's biographical data.
The May 10, 2011, deadline for full compliance remains in effect, Chandler said, adding that "Congress must act to address systemic problems with the Real ID Act to advance our security interests over the long term."
The extension comes after 46 of 56 states and territories informed DHS that they will not be able to meet the Dec. 31 deadline.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has made no secret of her objections to Real ID, supporting instead efforts to enact PASS ID, which would require states to issue driver's licenses that are compliant with federal security standards by 2016 and create a $150 million grant program to help states digitize birth records. Last week, the department announced $48 million in grants for states "to help prevent terrorism, reduce fraud, and improve the reliability and accuracy of personal identification documents," Chandler said.