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Audit: Revenue Dept. Broke Law by Keeping License Info

MISSOUR -- The State Auditor’s Office says the Department of Revenue violated state law when it began making electronic copies of personal documents of driver’s license and concealed-carry permit applicants. However, the review says the Highway Patrol did not break the law when it shared those documents with the federal government.

The State Auditor’s Office says the Department of Revenue violated state law when it began making electronic copies of personal documents of driver’s license and concealed-carry permit applicants. However, the review says the Highway Patrol did not break the law when it shared those documents with the federal government.

Deputy Auditor Harry Otto says his office wanted to wait until legislative hearings on document scanning for driver and concealed-carry licenses had wrapped up before releasing the auditor’s office’s findings. He says written agreements were not in place between the Department of Revenue and the Office of Administration’s information technology division. However, other information-sharing laws were not broken — the Highway Patrol is allowed by law to exchange information with the federal government for law enforcement purposes.

The auditor’s review says the legislature should the state’s anti-Real ID law because it could prevent the Revenue Department from making driver and non-driver licenses more secure. Missouri and 30 other states have opted out of the federal Real-ID requirements, which were set in motion in 2005. Otto says under current federal law, that could eventually lead to most Americans having trouble boarding an airplane. The federal government has put the requirement on a temporary hold as some states work toward compliance, and Missouri and other states refuse to comply.

However, Deputy Auditor Harry Otto says another statute requires the Revenue Director to make state-issued IDs as secure as possible. And he says there’s another section of the law that applies to writing new rules. Otto says that puts the department in a sticky situation, where no matter what they do, a law is going to be violated.

The auditor’s office reports the Department of Revenue has been receptive to the review’s recommendations, and cooperative during the investigation.

The legislature tried to tie the scanning scandal to the federal Real ID Act, but Otto says there’s no evidence that state departments were retaining personal information in efforts to comply with Real ID. He says the federal government has said it was working to identify those who were fraudulently drawing social security and disability benefits.

Congress passed the federal Real ID Act in 2005 based upon recommendations from the 9/11 commission. Missouri passed a law in 2009 that says our state would not implement the stricter ID guidelines.

The Department of Revenue has responded to the review by saying, “The auditor’s report confirms what the department has said from the outset: the department followed state law prohibiting compliance with Real ID and fulfilled its duty to provide safe and secure state-issued photo IDs while protecting the privacy of Missourians.”

Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), who requested the audit in April, could not be reached by press time.

Read the review by Auditor Schweich’s Office HERE.

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