Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Real ID Will Waste $11 Billion

What could you do with $11 billion? How many ways could we make the world a better place with that money? I know! Let’s spend it on a national ID card! The $11 billion figure comes from the National Conference of State Legislatures, and doesn’t include wasted time by productive members of society.

On the bright side, that’s a lot less per-capita than the British National ID scheme, which reports will cost 10.8 billion USD.

Maybe the British scheme is more fully specified, and their cost estimates are more accurate.

8 comments on "Real ID Will Waste $11 Billion"

  • Chris says:

    Man, that number just keeps on increasing.
    On May 9, 2005 I poked around and saw that the NCSL was saying the cost would be $500 Million:

  • Iang says:

    Look on the bright side: if the US were to follow the NZ example, they could save that money in later years…

  • As always, it pays to look at the incentives of who is doing the estimation. In this case, both the state-based organizations have incentives to reduce the federal role. The AAMVA wants to maintain political control, particularly the increased voice they have in the recent ID-centric security environment. THe NGA, meanwhile, fears a giant unfunded mandate.
    This is not to say that Real ID is a poorly thought out waste of money that will be implemented with all the efficacy we have come to expect from the current administration. Just good to understand why people are saying what they are saying.

  • Adam says:

    Ok, Allan, fine!
    Here’s my motivation: I think National ID is evil. It is pure, unadulterated garbage, and will make all of us substantially less free.

  • Nick says:

    The majority of the increase comes from a very questionable assumption that initial enrollment takes twice as long as renewal in person and four times as long as online or mail renewal.
    My experience managing an ID issuance office that recently started requiring identity source documents has been that it’s only a 10% increase. This would be an additional 1.5B for renewal, not 8.5B as in the report, and the total would therefore be about 4B.
    Not pocket change but only about 1/3 of this estimate.

  • Adam says:

    Want to say something about your population? Do you deal with the full range of customers a DMV might?

  • Nick says:

    Good question.
    I work with a domestic (non-defense or intelligence) Federal Agency in Washington D.C. where close to 75% of the Agency is staffed by D.C. residents. I don’t know if I can speak to the full range of customers at every DMV but seeing our customers and having been to the DMV more times than I’d like to admit (I also live in D.C.), in my opinion, our customer base is very similar to the one that the D.C. DMV serves.

  • Adam says:

    I can see your IP address. I think that your customers have a more ummm intensive process of credentialing than most others, and your databases on them are more complete with various identifiers.
    I also think that I would prefer not to live in a world where that much data is collected and maintained.

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