Oversight Hearing on TWIC Implementation

Thursday, November 01, 2007
The House Committee on Homeland Security conducted an oversight hearing on the Implementation of the TWIC Program. In his prepared remarks, Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) expressed his concern that the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program is far behind schedule and that the estimates of the number of workers affected are much understated. Testimony was for the record, as the hearing was interrupted by a floor vote. Rear Admiral Brian Salerno, USCG, explained how the program is being rolled out on a port-by-port basis and that progress is being made with regard to the card reader technology. Ms. Cathleen Berrick, Government Accountability Office, pointed out that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should improve its outreach program to educate maritime workers and employers on the TWIC enrollment process, particularly the background check, appeal, and waiver processes. Ms. Lisa Himber, Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay, stated that the initial roll-out in the Port of Wilmington generally went well, but that due to limited testing a number of unknowns exist and that various practical issues remain unresolved. Ms. Bethann Rooney, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, expressed concern that the number of individuals needing a TWIC is seriously underestimated and that TSA has yet to address the continuing need for TWIC enrollment centers long after the initial roll-out. Ms. Judith Marks, Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions, explained that the TWIC contractor is working to accommodate an expanded population of TWIC applicants and has measures in place to provide privacy and data security. Mr. Maurice Emsellem, National Employment Law Project, explained that, due to flaws in the FBI database, it is highly probable that large numbers of workers will be initially disqualified for a TWIC and that they will not understand and utilize the appeal and waiver process. Mr. George Quick, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, testified that the TWIC should utilize the international biometric identity standard rather than the federal standard and that state and local port entities should be preempted from adopting their own identity card requirements. [Source: HK Law]
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