Congressman: TWIC ‘as useful as a library card’ would be

| Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In the last four years, 300,000 truckers have enrolled in the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, paying the standard $132.50 and gathering birth certificates and other documents to obtain the ID card.

TWIC, they were told, would be a one-stop biometric identification card that would give port and warehouse security details electronically, including fingerprints and documents proving legal residency.

Within the trucking industry, drivers were told TWIC would give them a competitive edge.

A powerful member of Congress, however, recently said a long-anticipated wait for TWIC-card readers at ports and other secure facilities has rendered the TWIC card “about as useful as a library card” would be.

Rep. John Mica, R-FL, made the comments during an April 14 hearing at a hearing of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which he serves as chairman.

TSA declined to appear at the hearing, a news release stated. Mica, however, said he will continue to “press TSA to answer for delays in the TWIC program,” and would work with other House committees to do the same.

TSA has spent $420 million on TWIC, and the federal government and private sector may spend as much as $3.2 billion on TWIC during the next 10 years, not including the card readers themselves.

More than 1.8 million U.S. workers have enrolled in TWIC. The program was created after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The first TWIC enrollments began in 2007 and will start expiring in 2012.

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 with a shorter lifespan for $105.25. The card is designed to last five years with new background checks.