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DHS releases final report on TWIC reader pilot


YARMOUTH, Maine—The Department of Homeland Security on Feb. 27 issued its final report on the Transportation Worker Identification Credential reader pilot program.

Refinery to complete final integration of TWIC readers by August


PASADENA, Texas—It’s been more than a three-year process, but Pasadena Refining Systems, a refiner and marketer of petroleum products on the Houston Ship Channel, will soon have a fully operational Transportation Worker Identification Card reader system in place.

TWIC holders: 'Why did I have to get this card again?'

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

by Mark Leto, Jr., Inner Parish Security Corporation

The Transportation Worker Identification Credential program is a security measure enforced at ports nationwide by the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that individuals who have unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities/vessels have received a thorough background check. More importantly, the TWIC program ensures that an individual is not a security threat. Individuals who meet TWIC eligibility requirements will be issued a tamper-resistant credential, which includes a photograph, bar code, pin number, and fingerprint scan to allow for a positive link between the card and the cardholder.


Prior to the TWIC card, ports across the United States tried to police themselves as best as possible. There were just far too many documents and credentials needed in order to keep track of authorized and unauthorized personnel. It was even more difficult for law enforcement officials and the Coast Guard to know who and what was entering these highly sensitive areas on a daily basis. After September 11th, the issue became even more sensitive; thus, TWIC was mandated and policed by the Coast Guard and was written into the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA). Through the MTSA, Congress directed the federal government to issue a biometric security credential to individuals with unescorted access to secure areas of facilities and vessels and all mariners holding Coast Guard-issued credentials or qualification documents.

Originally, the Transportation Security Administration estimated 750,000 people would need to enroll in the program; however, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, already 1,518,821 workers had been enrolled by mid-March of this year.

Naturally, areas surrounding ports are going to have a larger distribution of TWIC cards. For instance, Baton Rouge has one of the largest TWIC distributions in the United States. Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas are densely populated with maritime industry workers; and because of refineries, ports and the feeder industries that support those entities, this port has become a monster for TWIC enrollments. Also, keep in mind that every person that enters the designated areas of TWIC has to be enrolled and carry a card.

Problems with TWIC

One of the major problems with the implementation of the TWIC program is that ports and compliant industries have yet to install card readers to scan the TWIC cards. It would be hard to determine if there have been any issues until these card scanners are available. If anyone were to try and access an unauthorized area with a falsified TWIC card, it would be a federal crime. In reference to the scanners, some of the compliant industries are making a real push to install the card scanners as the Coast Guard will be issuing a mandate on the installation soon.

How to Make the Enrollment Process More Efficient

In order to receive a TWIC card, an applicant must go through a strict enrollment process. Applicants can save time by pre-enrolling online or via phone. Applicants are required to bring identity documents to the enrollment center, and upon visiting they will (1) complete a TWIC Disclosure and Certification Form, (2) pay the enrollment fee ($132.50), (3) provide biographic information (if applicant did not pre-enroll), (4) complete a set of fingerprints; and (5) take a digital photograph. Applicants will be notified by email or phone, as specified during enrollment, when their TWIC card is available for pickup at the enrollment center. Applicants must return to the center at which they enrolled to pick up their TWIC (unless they specify another enrollment center at the time of enrollment). TWIC cards will be issued to applicants 6–8 weeks after enrollment, and they can check the status of their card and schedule a pick-up appointment via the official TWIC Web site.

In terms of efficiency, the most important aspects of an operation like TWIC are time management and the ability to multitask and, most importantly, communication with your customer. Typically, about 60 percent of TWIC applicants are walk-ins and approximately 100 TWIC cards are processed daily at each enrollment center. Applicants can help facilitate the enrollment process by enrolling ahead of time on the Internet. As stated earlier, with so many walk-in clients, applicants who pre-enroll online and set his or her appointment are able to be slated in at a set time slot, and can usually cut their wait time in half. The average wait time is about thirty to forty minutes; however, if you pre-enrolled and have an appointment, the wait time drops to ten to twenty minutes.

Ineligible Applicants

Applicants who might have trouble obtaining a TWIC card include criminals and those who might not pass a background check. Certain serious criminal offenses will preclude one from receiving a card, or minor offenses, such as unpaid traffic tickets or taxes, could cause delays in its issuance.  When the TWIC program first started, there were delays as long as a month or two because of the volume of applicants, but that has subsided and the wait time has become much shorter.

What’s Next?

In all cases, private security should play a major role in the inspection and verification of whom and what is entering and exiting the unauthorized areas. If your company or port is mandated to have TWIC cards, be sure to install the scanners for verification, and have a private security firm scan the TWIC cards and control what personnel comes in and out of the unauthorized areas. Controlling access to secure areas is the key factor in enhancing port security. Individuals will continue to enroll and receive their TWIC cards, and ports must make it a priority to install the scanners in order to read the cards. In terms of security, if there are no scanners then the credential is meaningless. An announcement should come soon mandating the installation of the scanners; until then, TWIC holders will be wondering, “Why did I have to get this card?”

Ports gear up to test TWIC readers


LOS ANGELES—Following the mandated card-deployment part of the Transportation Worker Identification Card program in April of 2009, several ports around the country are now preparing to test the biometric element of the program. However, there remains significant concern that implementing the fingerprint reader component to the TWIC program could significantly impact the flow of commerce.

TWIC deadline is officially here

Thursday, April 16, 2009

So it's been years in the making folks, but we've finally reached the actual deadline for TWIC (well sort of, see here about the 'flexibility' granted some ports). While ports around the country have been rolling out TWIC for months now, the final implementation happened yesterday on April 14. Which makes me wonder, who chooses these dates anyway? If they were really thinking about the little guy, would they have picked the day before tax day? Talk about adding stress to people's lives. I'm sure it was some legislative-type who would never dream of filling out his or her own 1040.

Anyway, I spoke to the Jill Taylor, deputy director of homeland security for the Port of Los Angeles, for a story about field testing the biometric element of TWIC. The Port of L.A. implemented TWIC yesterday and she didn't want to talk about the roll-out so much. I probably could've gotten more out of her in terms of the expected transition to TWIC, but the answer is always pretty much the same - something along the lines of a smooth transition.

Turns out at least one article says that the transition isn't smooth sailing. The San Gabriel Tribune reports that more than 250 workers were denied entry to the port yesterday because they didn't have a TWIC card. Most of those denied were truck drivers, delivering and picking up goods. The Coast Guard does allow ports to escort individuals without TWIC cards on port property, but that's probably not viable for a huge port like L.A. who receives thousands of trucks a day and likely doesn't have the security personnel to escort many of the TWIC-less truckers.

"It's just chaos down there," said Dick Schroeder, owner of Bay Harbor Transport, who had several truck drivers denied entry to the port complex. "This is just ridiculous."

But, in all fairness, when you're talking about 67,000 workers and truck drivers in total, 250 really isn't so bad - that's less than 4 percent - I hardly think that equates to chaos. Just wait until they put in those biometric readers, now that's gonna be chaos.

Great Lake workers off the TWIC hook (temporarily anyway)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

If you're a port worker on the Great Lakes and still haven't received your TWIC, you've lucked out. The U.S. Coast Guard, which is heading up the Transportation Workers Identification Card program, has extended the deadline for Great Lakes port workers to December 1 due to a power outage at a Transportation Security Administration facility that delayed the activation of TWIC cards. The original compliance date was scheduled for Oct. 31 (Halloween wasn't the only impending doom for those of who procrastinated).

The Department of Homeland Security is requiring national compliance of all port workers by April 14, 2009, but the Coast Guard and TSA are rolling out the program in stages, starting with New England port workers who were required to comply by Oct. 15. Ann Davis, a spokesperson for TSA, didn't anticipate any issues with the New England roll-out (see her comments

from an interview I did with her here), but I expect to speak with her today and will give an update on how it actually went.

UPDATE: Just spoke to Ann Davis at TSA. Sounds like so far so good for the New England TWIC rollout. "I haven’t heard of any issues and as far as I know everything went very smoothly in New England," she said. "Compliance has been successful and I haven't heard of anyone being turned away." Let's just hope the rest of the country can be as together as us New Englanders.


TWIC hits up Beantown

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Friday, port and longshore workers, truckers and other employees at the Port of Boston will begin their enrollment process in the TSA's TWIC program. We reported in October, that (after much delay) the TWIC program was launching its sign-up period at the Port of Wilmington, Delaware.
At that time, the TSA also listed the names of 11 other ports that would receive the universal ID card for its workers in November. The Port of Boston wasn't originally on that list, but according to a TWIC quarterly deployment plan, updated on Nov. 20, the agency looks to be on track.
Anyone hold a differing opinion?