Marching on: TSA says TWIC program reaches 1 million enrollees

| Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Transportation Worker Identification Credential has enrolled 1 million workers – just one month before all major U.S. ports and some other facilities begin mandatory enforcement of the biometric security card.

“Enrolling 1 million workers in less than 18 months is a testament to the collaborative efforts of TSA and the United States Coast Guard on this important maritime security effort,” said Gale Rossides, acting administrator for TSA.

Nationally, TWIC cards will be required for truckers and other port workers who need unescorted access into secure areas by April 15, although most ports are implementing earlier mandatory TWIC enforcement. Applicants have to go through background checks before being issued cards with their biometric data and residency documentation.

Several private facilities have begun requiring TWIC cards from truck drivers, though they are not federally mandated.

TSA has changed its estimated TWIC work force estimates from about 800,000 to 1.5 million. It is unclear how many jobs of the 1.5 million have been eliminated during the recent economic recession. Workers required to enroll in TWIC include port employees, longshoremen, mariners, truckers and others.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been critical of several TSA processes during the TWIC rollout, including the price of enrollment and the ability of foreign nationals to access ports without background checks required by TWIC applicants from the U.S. One filing of the Association’s comments on TWIC can be found here.

The TWIC program has been hounded by questions from truckers and criticism by many members of Congress. The program lost thousands of enrollments for good after a fall 2008 power outage. The TWIC card currently offers no more security advantage than any previous identification card, though plans call for port security employees to begin using a remote card reader that verifies certain information.

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

As of late February, nearly 200,000 truck drivers and drayage truckers had enrolled in TWIC.

For more information about TWIC, visit the program’s Web site at tsa.gov/twic or call the TWIC hotline at 866-347-8942.

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

 

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