RD563 - REAL ID Quarterly Implementation Report: April 1 – June 30, 2020

Executive Summary:

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 April 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020. This report concludes the Appropriation Act reporting requirement for REAL ID.

This reporting period saw significant challenges impacting REAL ID expansion in Virginia. Prior to mid-March, DMV was on a robust trajectory to process as many REAL ID transactions as possible at then-current staffing and facility levels. When fully operational, the agency was consistently setting new records for the daily number of REAL IDs issued.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the temporary closure of customer service centers (CSCs) statewide starting 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 Seven (2020) directing CSCs statewide to close temporarily as of March 18, precluding any issuance of REAL IDs from that date until mid-May, at which point a phased reopening of CSCs began. Following safety parameters laid out by Governor Northam regarding social distancing and other protective measures, DMV had reopened 35 of its 75 CSCs by the end of the quarter. (DMV reopened 73 CSCs by September 24. The remaining two CSCs are in the process of being relocated and will not be reopened until the new locations are ready in early 2021.)

For this quarter, DMV experienced a significant decrease in the number and percentage of REAL ID-compliant credentials issued. It is difficult to forecast the number of additional customers DMV would have served had there been no 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 June 30, 2020, more than 1.5 million REAL ID credentials had been issued. This means that approximately 52% of the customers that DMV estimated may obtain a REAL ID had successfully applied for a REAL ID credential, or 21.1% of DMV’s total credentialed population.

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, 2020, the U.S. 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 not clear at this time whether the extended deadline has been applied by these entities as well.