HOMELAND SECURITY

Transportation Security Card to Come Under Microscope Again

1/1/2011
By Stew Magnuson
The Government Accountability Office said it will release a detailed report on the transportation worker identification credential in February, which will include the results of covert testing at port facilities.

The requirement for the TWIC card was passed into law in 2002 in the aftermath of the 9/11 Commission report, which recommended that all transportation workers who need unescorted access to U.S. ports undergo a background check, have their photo and fingerprints taken, and be issued an identification card.

After several years of delays, the joint Transportation Security Administration and Coast Guard program began enrollment in 2007. More than 1 million workers have been issued cards.

The deployment of readers that can scan the cards and connect them to an identity management system has not followed, much to the dismay of security experts who note that it amounts to little more than a photo ID. A worker who has his card revoked, for example, could use it at another facility because security guards there wouldn’t have any way of knowing that it was no longer valid.

There are no laws or regulations requiring that facilities have readers, or that they be connected to a larger database that could verify an identity or whether the card is valid, according to a TSA factsheet.

GAO in a written response to a series of questions from members of the Senate, said pilot programs to test readers that port facilities can choose to purchase and install are still under way. These tests will include the possibility of adding biometric markers that would make identification of an individual more accurate.

The February review will address the enrollment process, background checks, card production, activation and issuance, including the results of covert testing, GAO said.   

Topics: Homeland Security, Air Transportation

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