Sunday, June 22, 2008

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Missouri wins Real ID grant contest
By Sarah Lohman

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that Missouri had won a competition to receive a $17.5 million grant to develop a large part of the government's new Real ID program — a plan to make drivers licenses and IDs secure from fraud.

The department announced that $79 million will be granted to 48 states and territories to help them comply with the Real ID plan, which was developed as part of the 9/11 Commission Report to prevent people from fraudulently getting a license with false information or acquiring multiple licenses.

Missouri will get the biggest share after being chosen to develop the "verification hub" — which would connect department of motor vehicle offices in one state with another state's databases.

Florida, Indiana, Nevada and Wisconsin will each receive $1.2 million to help Missouri. Illinois stands to get about $2.3 million to implement the system.

"Americans overwhelmingly want secure identification, and this funding will help those states working to provide it," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a statement.

The hub will provide easy access for department of motor vehicles offices to government records such as birth certificates, Social Security numbers and state-ID histories.

Omar Davis, Missouri's director of revenue, said every state's information will not be contained in one location. He said a server will allow information to be exchanged instantaneously, eliminating the delays of phone calls or faxes.

Around the country, the program's requirements will be carried out by whichever state agency issues drivers licenses, said Amy Kudwa, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security. She said the new program shouldn't result in any extra delays for people applying for legitimate licenses.

Secretaries of state or other state agencies would be required to incorporate information and security features into each card.

Workers at motor vehicle offices would be required to:

— Verify the source documents provided by applicants to prove the applicant's identity and U.S. citizenship or legal status.

— Check if the applicant has been issued a license or ID in another state.

— Verify that the applicant's Social Security number is valid and belongs to that applicant.

States will be required to meet the new standards by Dec. 31, 2009. By Dec. 31, 2014, all license holders age 50 or younger must have IDs that comply with the new requirements.

Real IDs, or a passport, will be required to fly on a commercial airplane, get inside a nuclear plant or enter a federal building — even the Gateway Arch, Griffith said. 202-298-6880

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