The federal government is delaying implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential until fall, officials from the Transportation Security Administration confirmed.
Enrollment for the program was to originally begin in March, and later July, though TSA officials say the TWIC delay is necessary to ensure “the network behind the system is functional, secure, integrated, sustainable and does not interrupt the free flow of commerce,” said Darrin Kayser, a spokesman with the Transportation Security Administration.
Kayser told Land Line Magazine that TSA tested employees for a prototypical TWIC enrollment process that included 4,000 applicants and took several weeks.
“We’re going to be doing about 5,000 (enrollments) a day,” Kayser said. “We want to make sure that before we roll this out we’re doing it right and before we require workers to pay a fee that the systems are not going to negatively affect commerce.”
TWIC affects an estimated 770,000 port employees, ship workers and truck drivers, and is planned to combine a worker’s biometric data with computer technology that can be read remotely by port security officials.
Such a program has never been implemented with a population as large and mobile as the truck drivers, port workers and maritime employees, Kayser said.
The government wants to ensure the program is done right the first time, he said.
“I think it’s going to be a critical security measure, but also it’s something that’s going to personally impact over 750,000 workers,” Kayser told Land Line. “We’re working very hard to coordinate with ports, trade associations, to make sure we’re keeping the industry and workers informed.”
– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer