One-stop shopping. That’s what a bill recently passed out of the House Homeland Security Committee is seeking to make the Transportation Worker Identification Credential enrollment process easier.
TWIC, which has enrolled 2.1 million truck drivers, longshoreman and other port workers, is a biometric-capable identity card that can be read by remote devices to check fingerprints, residency documents and other information. It allows card holders access to secure areas within ports.
Currently, truckers seeking the credential are forced to make multiple trips to enrollment centers, many without truck parking and often hundreds of miles from drivers who do not live in metro centers.
The SMART Port Security Act, HR4251, passed out of the committee late last week. The bill, if passed into law, would mandate a single trip to enrollment locations for TWIC applicants.
The bill also would require the Secretary of Transportation to issue a final rule that would set the deadline for installation of the biometric card readers. Currently, many ports and other locations that require the credentials only visually inspect the cards – rendering them basically “flash cards.”
The card readers have been delayed because the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t identified requirements for TWIC card-readers, a point that drew Congressional criticism earlier this year.
The changes come as the first round of renewals are set to begin in October. Renewals will cost $132.50.
In February, the Transportation Security Administration reduced the cost of the credential slightly for drivers who have a comparable background check, such as one required for hazmat endorsements.
The elimination of the duplicate background check will result in some savings. Truckers using a TSA-contracted site for the background checks will save $27.25 for TWIC applicants who already have a hazmat endorsement and $22.25 for hazmat endorsement applicants who already have a TWIC.