The Bureau of Motor Vehicle’s new driver’s licenses, mandated by the federal Real ID Act, which were scheduled to be complete next month, are not ready yet and the contractor allegedly is "under investigation," acting BMV Director Lawrence Olive said during his nomination hearing Thursday.
Passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005, the Real ID Act sets up standards for the issuance of drivers’ licenses and identification cards to safeguard against fraud and identity theft. The final rules were put in place in 2008, with a 2009 initial deadline. The territory and most states missed the deadline and there have been several extensions.
The territory has received $2.3 million in federal grants to implement the plan. (See Related Links below)
"Are you saying the V.I. government has paid $2 million to an entity for services not rendered?" asked Sen. Kenneth Gittens, chair of the Rules and Judiciary Committee.
"I wouldn’t say it was not fully rendered," Olive replied. "There are some sections that have been dealt with but it has not been completed.”
"Is the company operational?" Gittens asked.
"At this present time, I was told the company had closed its offices in St. Thomas and left," Olive said.
Sen. Jean Forde asked for more details about the situation and Olive said legal counsel had asked him not to discuss it in public, but he could advise them in chambers, because "there is an investigation in progress."
He did say, "there are some serious concerns and that is why RealID has come to a standstill at this time."
March 15 is the deadline the previous administration set to get the work done, but they have until August to get it online for Homeland Security, Olive said.
Sen. Justin Harrigan asked if there would be a fine if the territory missed the August deadline.
There is not necessarily a fine but Homeland Security does an assessment, Olive said. However, "I am of the strong belief before August we will have the RealID system up and running," Olive said.