TWIC escort emphasized as nationwide enforcement begins

| 4/3/2009

With at least tens of thousands of drivers yet to enroll in the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program, Uncle Sam is enhancing enrollment efforts and encouraging ports to escort non-credentialed truck drivers and other port workers until at least mid-May.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has long criticized TSA’s handling of the  TWIC program and its rollout, insisting reform was needed in areas 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.

In early April, TSA and the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security announced it had added several mobile enrollment centers. The government would also “reach out to port facilities” regarding TWIC enforcement flexibilities, including use of escorting and monitoring workers who don’t have a TWIC.

Workers at Captain of the Port Zones in Guam; Houston/Galveston, TX; Port Arthur, TX; Los Angeles/Long Beach and San Juan, Puerto Rico, will be allowed to use “interim equivalent security measures” through May 13. Those measures include allowing eligible workers to access secure areas after their security threat assessment is completed or escorting them.

Nationwide TWIC enforcement is scheduled to be in place by April 15.

The federal government’s estimate of total TWIC-eligible workers has changed from 750,000 to 1.5 million to recent estimates of 1.2 million. On April 1, TSA estimated that 1.07 million workers had enrolled in TWIC.

A letter from TSA to U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-MS, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said TSA has added staffers to respond quickly “to congressional inquiries on the TWIC program.”

Standard TWIC enrollment costs $132.50.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer