RD210 - REAL ID Quarterly Implementation Report: January 1 – March 31, 2020
In accordance with the 2018 Appropriations Act, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) submits this quarterly report to the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees concerning the roll-out of REAL ID in Virginia between January 1, 2020, and March 31, 2020.
This reporting period saw significant challenges impacting REAL ID expansion in Virginia. Prior to March 15, 2020, DMV was on a robust trajectory to process as many REAL ID transactions as able at current staffing and facility levels. When fully operational, the agency was consistently setting new records for the daily number of REAL IDs issued. However, two major issues occurred this quarter which severely limited the agency’s ability to process REAL ID-compliant credentials. The initial challenge was Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) network latency issues, which began in January. Due to infrastructure issues within the VITA Managed Service Provider environment, from January 6th through February 20th, DMV experienced issues where service was either somewhat or severely degraded on 19 of 36 days. Customer serve time, as well as wait time and the ability to serve the customer was noticeably impacted during these events. A potential solution was installed in mid-March; however, DMV will not be able to determine if the latency issues have been resolved until the customer service centers (CSCs) are fully operational.
The second challenge was the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the temporary closure of CSCs statewide in mid-March. On March 15, 2020, the Governor ordered establishments in the Middle Peninsula area, which included three CSCs (Hampton, Newport News, and Williamsburg CSCs), to close due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in that area. On March 17, the Governor issued Executive Directive 7 (2020) directing CSCs statewide to close temporarily as of March 18, precluding any issuance of REAL IDs from that point to well into the second quarter of 2020.
Recognizing the difficulties states would face in meeting the October 1, 2020, enforcement date given the pandemic and widespread closures of motor vehicle agencies nationwide, on March 26 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the federal enforcement date by one year – to October 1, 2021. The new enforcement deadline means that Virginians will not need a REAL ID to board a domestic flight until October 1, 2021. Because military bases and other federal facilities have the ability to set their own entry requirements, it is unclear at this time whether the extended deadline will be applied by these entities as well.
For most of this quarter, DMV continued to experience an increase in the number and percentage of REAL ID-compliant credentials. It is difficult to forecast the number of additional customers that DMV could have served if systems had been running without problems or how many customers would have been served without the office closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it appears clear that DMV was making substantial progress in ensuring Virginians were prepared for the October 1, 2020, federal enforcement date. As of March 31, 2020, more than 1.3 million REAL ID credentials have been issued. This means that approximately 50% of the customers that DMV estimated may obtain a REAL ID had successfully applied for a REAL ID credential, or 20.4% of DMV’s total credentialed population.