TWIC approaches 1.5 million cards, doubling estimates amid growing ID needs

| Monday, February 08, 2010

The Transportation Worker Identification Credential is fast approaching the printing of its 1.5 millionth biometric security ID card – already twice what federal officials expected originally.

What’s more – the trend for expanded identification and security among many types of shipping facilities means that number should continue to grow.

As of Wednesday, Feb. 3, the Transportation Security Administration had printed 1,497,331 cards. TSA’s early estimates for the program included about 750,000 enrollees in the program.

Michael Goldstein was one of TWIC’s earliest enrollees when he got his card in 2008.

Goldstein, a fuel-hauler in Los Angeles, said several tanker yards he works at require TWIC. Goldstein said he prefers showing his TWIC card at facilities as opposed to handing over his driver’s license at gates.

“I never liked having to show my driver’s license,” said Goldstein, an OOIDA Life Member. “I welcome any kind of secondary identification that does not require you to pull out your driver’s license. I’ve gotten into arguments myself with security guards before. I’ll say, ‘You can look at it, but you’re not writing the number down.’ ”

Michael Goldstein’s father, Jack, also an OOIDA Life Member, endured identity theft problems years ago after security guards used information from his driver’s license at a shipping yard.

“Dad actually caught a security guard with a file box full of driver’s license info he’d been keeping for a while,” Michael Goldstein said.

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.

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.

TSA has a TWIC hotline at 866-DHS-TWIC (347-8942), a specific TWIC e-mail address at TWIC.Helpdesk@gcrm.com and a Web site.

TWIC issued initial rejection letters to 68,187 TWIC card applicants, but granted 36,425 appeals of the rejections after 37,285 such appeals were requested.

Michael Goldstein said he didn’t enjoy TWIC’s relatively expensive card fee. He has, however, reaped the benefits of being among the first fuel tank haulers in his niche to have a TWIC.

“In the beginning, they hadn’t required all drivers to get a TWIC card,” he said. “Because I went out and got it right away, I was able to get some loads others weren’t able to because they didn’t have the card. I still get loads because of the edge I have from my TWIC card.”

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

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