TWIC enrollment rolls on; card holders approach 250,000

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | Monday, April 21, 2008

The Transportation Security Administration has opened nearly two-thirds of its planned permanent enrollment centers for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program.

More than 1.5 million port employees, longshoremen, mariners, truckers and others who require unescorted access to secure areas of ports to have background checks before being issued cards with their biometric data and residency documentation.

Enrollment will open on Wednesday, April 23, at the Port of Chattanooga in Tennessee, the Port of LaPorte, TX, and in Portsmouth, NH, which is the 95th enrollment center of 147 fixed enrollment centers TSA plans to open.

While the agency has opened nearly 100 enrollment centers, the number of workers actually enrolling has lagged behind TSA’s stated goal to enroll 1 million workers by December this year.

As of April 18, enrollment stood at 230,273.

The TSA isn’t likely to require TWIC cards nationally for at least several months, and must give the U.S. Coast Guard 90 notice days before they’re required. Some news reports have indicated TWIC could be required by early 2009.

Eventually, TWIC cards could be an accepted standard for truckers to get into warehouses and trucking yards inland.

Standard TWIC enrollment costs $132.50, although workers with “current, comparable” threat assessment background checks such as HAZMAT, Merchant Mariner Document or Free and Secure Trade (FAST) may obtain a TWIC card for $105.25. The card is designed to last five years.

Replacement cards for those who lose or damage their TWIC card cost $60, according to the TWIC Web site at www.tsa.gov/twic.

The TWIC program has been ridiculed by politicians for missing repeated implementation deadlines and running up costs of more than $100 million, according to the Government Accountability Office.

TWIC administrators also came under fire after it was discovered they’d miscalculated the number of employees who needed to enroll, doubling a previous estimate of 750,000 workers to 1,500,000.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer
charlie_morasch@landlinemag.com

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