A Nevada DMV spokesman says the federal government offer giving states another 18 months to begin complying with stiff requirements of the Real ID Act sounds better than it is.
"It's pretty hollow," said Tom Jacobs, public information officer for the department.
State officials have complained bitterly that the act was put in unrelated legislation for the troops serving in Iraq at the last minute, without even a hearing and without anyone knowing it was there.
It imposes tough and expensive requirements on all states requiring they make everyone prove who they are and that they are legally in the U.S. before they can be issued a driver's license. That means not only making every driver come to DMV to be re-licensed but making them find documents such as original Social Security cards and birth certificates.
The requirements, which will cost Nevada alone an estimated $66 million, were to begin in 2008 and be completed by 2013. They are designed to help catch terrorists and illegal aliens.
Nationwide, the cost could exceed $11 billion.
Jacobs said that while Congress and the Bush Administration agreed to delay the start of the Real ID requirements up to 18 months, they didn't extend the completion date.
"So all an 18-month extension would do is give us three-and-a-half years to complete it instead of five years," he said. "Implementation to completion would just be shorter."
Jacobs said the other part of the offer is allowing states to use up to 20 percent of their Homeland Security grant money for Real ID.
Jacobs said that doesn't increase the money coming to the state; that it just takes money from other projects being funded through Homeland Security.
"We were asking for money from another pot, not the money the state is already getting," he said. "Allowing DMVs to seek part of the money the state is already getting for Homeland Security is just taking bread out of somebody else's mouth."
Jacobs said the problem with Real ID is it's time consuming, expensive and complicated.
"We're looking for Homeland Security to give us the money, the time and the flexibility to make this thing real," he said.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.