January 2018

Lessons learned from Real ID implementation


iStock 000005913775Medium 1Staying the Course

 I began my career with Wisconsin DMV in May 2007. More than 10 years later, I can honestly say that Real ID has always been part of the job.

The primary sponsor of the Real ID Act was Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner. When President George W. Bush signed this legislation in May 2005, the state of Wisconsin quickly got to work reviewing the act, providing comments on draft rules and enacting the legislative changes necessary to be a compliant state.

Real ID provided Wisconsin the opportunity to reengineer the issuance process for driver’s licenses and identification cards by incorporating modern, efficient and secure technologies. Updated hardware and verification checks are relatively easy to plan for. The biggest challenge Wisconsin needed to overcome was capturing a customer photo for each person applying for a Real ID, even if no card is issued (§37.11). This language required an amended intake process, changing the flow of information to the camera workstation, and integrating photos with the issuance process to allow for 1:1 facial recognition at the processing counter once applicant information is confirmed.

To incorporate all federal requirements, Wisconsin DMV needed to rely on multivendor integration and an increased use of web service calls throughout each customer transaction. After several months of development, testing and service center reconfigurations, Wisconsin DMV began issuing Real ID compliant credentials on Jan. 14, 2013.


iStock 000005913775Medium 2The Road to North Carolina’s Real ID

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles’ journey toward Real ID compliance spanned nearly four years and ended on Oct. 10, 2017. In 2015, we improved the Division’s technology infrastructure to meet Real ID guidelines. On May 1, 2017, North Carolina issued its first Real ID compliant credential and surpassed the 100,000 milestone in August 2017.

The Real ID Act provided an array of detailed requirements, and one of our biggest challenges has been interpreting the language for implementation and explaining it to North Carolinians. Issuing licenses and ID cards already required specific criteria; however, Real ID compliance set into motion a vast amount of research. In communicating with the public, NCDMV had to refine the Real ID messaging so it would not confuse residents. Overcoming this challenge was a team effort involving IT, DMV and our vendors. This core team met weekly to discuss the impact of Real ID on our call centers, communications, technology, examiners, training and development.

In North Carolina, obtaining a Real ID is optional; however, we see the greatest benefit of Real ID compliance as having a single form of identification that is acceptable everywhere. With a Real ID, residents can continue to fly and visit federal facilities as they always have.

Looking back on our journey, here are a few recommendations for states working toward compliance: test for every possible scenario; involve staff from different aspects of your organization; seek feedback from compliant states; and begin communicating Real ID with your residents early.