DOT Outlines Smart Card Concept

Wednesday, February 20, 2002
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering establishing a nationwide transportation worker identification system under which workers in all transportation modes would carry “smart cards” to verify their identity and control their access to vessels and transportation facilities. A DOT team, known as the Credentialing Direct Action Group, of CDAT, briefed industry representatives on the concept at a January 22 briefing at DOT headquarters in Washington, D.C. The CDAG, briefed industry representatives from each of DOT’s operating agencies, including the Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration, as well as the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Under the concept presented by CDAG, a transportation worker in any mode of transportation who required unescorted access to a vessel or transportation facility would obtain a Transportation Worker ID card (TWIC). The Transportation Security Administration would establish standards and procedures governing the TWIC, including the biometric information it would contain (e.g., a photograph, fingerprint, etc.” and would require a standard security check (at minimum, an FBI criminal records and National Driver Register check) as a condition of card issuance.

The CDAG outlined a range of possibilities for card issuing authorities, from state motor vehicle agencies (an approach that would potentially allow an individual’s driver license to serve as the TWIC) to the federal transportation agencies (such as the Coast Guard). Designated “Qualified Agencies” would have the ability to update the card by adding information relevant to that agency (e.g., the Coast Guard might have the authority to add license or merchant mariner’s document information to a TWIC issued by TSA or state motor vehicle administration). The CDAG described this approach as akin to using” one card to replace a whole wallet,” or a single card as the platform for multiple layers of encrypted information.

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