Transportation worker card program moves forward

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U.S. officials will seek comment on a proposal to develop an identification card for truckers and other port workers that will cost cardholders upward of $139 each for a five-year period.

On Wednesday, May 10, the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard began implementing the Transportation Worker Identification Credential by approving proposed regulations for a biometric-based identification credential for port workers. More extensive program information will be published in the Federal Register in upcoming days; after that, the public will have 45 days to comment. Four public meetings will be scheduled for collecting comments.

“TWIC is designed to ensure that individuals posing a security threat do not gain access to our nation’s ports,” TSA Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley says. “Today’s proposed rulemaking represents a significant milestone toward putting TWIC on the fast track.”

The program is expected to reach 750,000 workers and be funded through user fees. TSA anticipates workers would pay about $139 to receive a TWIC. Workers with current, comparable background checks would pay about $105 for the credential.

The rulemakings follow a Department of Homeland Security announcement last week that the department will begin conducting name-based background checks on about 400,000 U.S. port workers. These checks are meant to keep ports safe while the TWIC rollout is expedited.

The TWIC rule proposes the following:

  • TSA would collect worker’s information, including fingerprints, name, date of birth, address and phone number, photo, employer and job title. Workers’ alien registration number will be recorded if applicable.
  • All individuals with unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities and vessels regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act would be required to have a TWIC, including truckers, longshoremen, port operator employees and rail workers. U.S. Merchant Mariners who hold an active Merchant Mariner’s Document, Merchant Mariner’s License Certificate of Registry or an STCW Endorsement also would be required to have a TWIC.
  • Background checks would include checking criminal history records, terrorist watch lists, legal immigration status and outstanding warrants.
  • TWIC would utilize Smart Card technology and include a worker’s photo, name, biometric information and multiple fraud protection measures.
  • Port facility and vessel owners and operators would be required to implement TWIC into their existing access control systems and operations. They also would have to purchase and utilize card readers, and update their approved security plans.
  • TSA conducted a prototype test of the credential last year and issued more than 4,000 TWICs to workers at 26 sites in six states.