Senator takes issue with TWIC development
Apr 23, 2007 2:31 PM
Despite $99.4 million in appropriations from Congress and six years spent in development, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (WIC) continues to languish at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to information from Sen Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).
The senator serves as chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which has scheduled hearings to discuss whether the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Coast Guard have taken actions to earlier Senate criticisms about the situation.
"While I do not want to dwell on the mistakes of the past, this committee needs assurance that the administration has taken seriously its mismanagement of the TWIC program," the senator said in the news release. "Given that the comprehensive management plan for TWIC required in the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 is over two years past due to Congress, I can only conclude that the administration is not taking its responsibility seriously enough. If the agencies continue to neglect the basic tenets of contract management and programmatic planning, failure is certain to result."
Inouye said that in the last Senate hearing almost a year ago, testimony was presented about "severe cost-overruns, contract mismanagement, excessive personnel turnover, poor communications, and ineffective planning."
The senator also expressed concern about the plan to deploy the biometric card enrollment and issuance process, and how the agencies plan to execute the pilot program for card reader technology.
"I am also concerned that the low estimates of the population affected by the program are not realistic," he stated in the news release. "This estimate is significant, in that it will determine the number of enrollment stations the contractor sets up and the number of trusted agents the contractor hires to process employees. An underestimate of the affected population would thus cause a domino effect, resulting in long wait times at the enrollment stations, poor customer service, and ultimately a slowing of the flow of commerce as labor circulates through a clogged enrollment and card issuance process.
The Teamsters also have taken issue with the TWIC process, issuing a news release April 12 warning of what it said is the difficulty of performing background checks on port drivers for the TWIC. Chuck Mack, the Teamsters’ port division director and international vice-president, estimated there are 90,000 port truck drivers and that turnover is 100 percent annually. Teamsters advocate making port truck drivers employees of trucking companies.
“It’s a system that’s extremely reminiscent of an underground economy,” Mack said in the news release. “Unless we stabilize employment in the truck driving sector, doing background checks just isn’t feasible.”
Eariler this year, the DHS, through TSA and the Coast Guard, published the final rule that establishes requirements for all merchant mariners and workers (including trucking company drivers) who need unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels. These individuals must successfully complete a security threat assessment conducted by TSA and hold TWIC in order to enter secure areas without escort.
In March the agencies published information in the Federal Register saying that truck drivers with hazardous materials endorsements on their commercial drivers licenses will be eligible for a $32 fee reduction when they obtain TWIC. User fees are for the costs to enroll applicants, complete security threat assessments, and issue biometric credentials.
Hazmat-endorsed drivers, and other workers who have completed a prior comparable threat assessment, will pay a $105.25 fee for the credential while other applicants must pay $137.25.
© 2013 Penton Media Inc.