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DHS Projects Real ID Costs at $9.9 billion; Estimates Rely on Fuzzy Math


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initially estimated that nationwide implementation would cost over $23 billion, roughly in line with estimates from independent groups like the National Governors Association and National Conference of State Legislators.  In its final regulations for implementation, published January 11, 2008, DHS significantly scaled back its cost estimate, from $23 billion to $9.9 billion.  However, a close look at the cost table in the regulations (p. 221) compared with the Department’s dubious assumptions and the requirements of the statute make it clear that DHS is practicing fuzzy math and grossly underestimating the real costs.

Read the ACLU's White Paper, "Fuzzy Math and the Real Cost of Real ID" here.


"I think the concept, though, was that this -- like all driver's licenses -- is largely a fee-based system, and that, ultimately, the cost of building Real ID should be amortized over the driver's license fee."
-- Sec. Michael Chertoff, speaking before Senate Homeland Security Committee Hearing, February 13, 2007.

The President's budget request contained only $150 million for Real ID in FY 2009, that's less than two tenths one percent of DHS's estimated cost.  See the appropriation forecast for Real ID in the Department of Homeland Security budget appendix here.

The President's budget contained no appropriation for Real ID in FY 2008.  See the appropriation forecast for Real ID in the Department of Homeland Security budget appendix here.

A number of national bodies have attempted to quantify the high cost of complying with the Real ID Act:

What States Must Consider: "Real Costs: Assessing the Financial Impact of the Real ID Act on the States." PDF >

National Conference of State Legislature's Real ID "Impact Report," estimating floor costs of $11 billion nationally.  PDF >
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