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10/1/2008 11:20:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

GAO Says Half of Workers Have Not Applied for TWIC

By Eric Miller, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Sept. 29 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Nearly a year into the application process, more than half of the estimated 1.2 million U.S. transportation workers have not applied for their Transportation Worker Identification Credential that, beginning April 15, 2009, will be required to gain entrance to all the nation’s ports and other transportation facilities.

So far, fewer than 498,000 workers, about 40%, have applied for TWIC cards at 149 fixed and 183 mobile enrollment sites. Of that number, about 319,000 cards have been activated for use, said Stephen Lord, acting director of homeland security and justice issues for the Government Accountability Office.

Lord, who testified on Sept. 17 to the House Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism, said the large number of workers that remain to be enrolled in the TWIC program will mean the Transportation Security Administration “could experience challenges in meeting the enrollment target.”

In May, TSA extended the original Sept. 25 mandatory enrollment deadline because officials said they could not enroll workers in time (5-12, p. 5).
Lord also told Congress that TSA and the U.S. Coast Guard, the enforcement agency for U.S. ports, will face challenges in implementing a biometric reader system currently being tested in a pilot program.

The card reader system, originally intended to be deployed when the TWIC cards became mandatory, would authenticate through fingerprints whether the person holding the TWIC card is the rightful owner.

“To put this in perspective, this program was authorized in the Maritime Transportation Security Act that became law in November of 2002,” said Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the subcommittee.

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