The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program is overly complex and could create the same delays for the maritime industry that recent changes in passport rules caused for American travelers, according to testimony by Offshore Marine Service Association Vice Chairman Otto Candies
, III. Candies’ delivered his comments at a July 12 Congressional hearing. The hearing was held by the Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to assess the progress on the TWIC Program. At the hearing, witnesses from the Transportation Security Agency and the Coast Guard acknowledged that the program is roughly six months behind schedule. The first TWIC card processing site at the port in Wilmington, Delaware has been delayed until sometime this fall and only half the port sites will be up and running within six months of the Delaware site. Despite that, they still plan to require all mariners to have TWIC cards by September of 2008.
Testifying on behalf of OMSA, Candies said that mariners already undergo a thorough background check to receive their licenses and z-cards. He warned that an overly cumbersome process that discourages Americans from wanting to work offshore could hurt rather than help security. He cited the example of passports, where new requirements and unrealistic deadlines resulted in processing of passports for thousands of Americans being delayed. He also said that OMSA was strongly opposed to requiring TWIC-reader devices on vessels.
At least two Congressmen at the hearing said the TWIC program appeared to have so many problems that it may be necessary to scrap the project and start over from scratch, but there does not appear to be a will in Congress to take that sort of drastic action.