TWIC Renewal Bill Before Congress

by TJ on March 22, 2011

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Today, we focus on the proposed Bill before Congress to extend TWIC renewal deadlines:

The Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) ID program allows truckers to gain quick access and exit from ports and some secure warehouse facilities.  While they are not essential to gain access, the TWIC allows truckers to gain admittance without having to pay for a TWIC ID holder to accompany them onto the facility’s premises (something which several ports have expressed disquiet about, including New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles).

The first wave of TWIC renewals is due to start next year, however US Representative, Ben Thompson (D-MS) is asking Congress to pass a bill which will extend the need to renew TWIC ID’s back to 2014, or until the S Department of Homeland Security issues the final card reader rule (if earlier).

Currently, there are in excess of 1.8 million US workers who have been issued with a TWIC ID, this includes over 300,000 truckers.  The TWIC ID program was started as security was drastically tightened up in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The program actually started in 2007 with the issuance of 5-year TWIC ID cards, with expiry dates in 2012.

Despite the implementation of the ID program, the cards have been criticized because they are only perfunctorily checked. Many claim they are ‘flash passes’ and do nothing to engender enhanced security which has led to calls to implement a card reader system to automate the ID procedure before access is granted.

Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has not made much progress in establishing a viable biometric system into which the TWI ID cards could be integrated.

The current system is simply delaying truckers and also imposing a burden of time and cost upon them to get the TWC IDs renewed.

Thompson is a ranking member of the US House Committee on Homeland Security, and the bill is currently before them for consideration. Currently, the cost of applying for a TWIC is $132.50, though some workers who already have acquired a similar identification and undergone comparable threat assessment background checks are charged a reduced fee of $105.25. There is also some empirical evidence that TWIC cards are being required by non-government facilities as an alternative form of identification to gain admittance to commercial facilities.

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