Congressman pitches elimination of double trips for TWIC

| Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Truckers and other applicants of the TWIC biometric ID card wouldn’t have to make multiple trips to enroll and receive their card if one congressman has his way.

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-LA, introduced the Scalise TWIC amendment to eliminate red tape during the TWIC application process. The proposal, folded into the Department of Homeland Security 2012 Appropriations Bill, would limit applicant visits to TWIC enrollment offices to a single visit.

“My amendment will speed up the renewal process by eliminating the burdensome requirement for an approved applicant to appear multiple times at TWIC office, sometimes located hundreds of miles away, when a single visit can accomplish the same purpose,” Scalise said in a prepared statement. “I’m proud to spearhead the effort to get rid of this unnecessary and time consuming roadblock in the TWIC application process.”

Currently, applicants typically make one visit to a TWIC enrollment center to apply, and a repeat visit to pick up their TWIC card.  TWIC renewals work the same way.

TSA officials have said the multiple trips are necessary to ensure the correct individual is receiving the TWIC card, which can be used to enter defined “secure areas at ports” or be used for identification on commercial airline flights.

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.

Last year, many online readers at Land Line Magazine’s website said their cards were rarely checked at ports. Thirty-seven percent of respondents in an April 2010 landlinemag.com Web poll said their TWIC cards were checked always or “most of the time” at ports they visit. Twenty-nine percent said rarely, and about one-third of respondents in the unscientific poll said their TWIC cards were never checked at ports they visit.

TSA’s TWIC hotline is available at 866-DHS-TWIC (347-8942), as well as TWIC’s e-mail help desk at TWIC.Helpdesk@gcrm.com. The program’s website is available by clicking here.

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