PVA Testifies at Congressional Hearing on TWIC

Thursday, August 16, 2007
The U. S. House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Safety and Transportation held a hearing last month on the TWIC program. Debbie Gosselin, president of Watermark Cruises, testified on behalf the Passenger Vessel Association stating that changes to TWIC are necessary to keep small American businesses like hers from being harmed. Specifically, she stressed the need to put seasonal employees to work quickly; to reduce the costs associated with the TWIC; to allow employers to define secure areas; and, to thoroughly test the TWIC readers in a marine environment before requiring them.

Gosselin emphasized that she and PVA members support rational security measures. For example, she noted that her company had hired a Company Security Officer, a new and expensive position, to insure compliance with the Marine Transportation Security Act. However, she said the TWIC requirement for companies with seasonal employees was a burdensome expense that did not result in enhanced security. “It takes two trips to a government center to get a TWIC,” explained Ms. Gosselin. “And my company is lucky; the closest center is just two hours away in Baltimore. Many PVA member employees must make two overnight trips for a TWIC, resulting in a great deal of expense and time to ask of seasonal employees before they start a 90-day job. So as a small company competing hard for employees, we will be forced to pay the TWIC fees, labor and travel costs ourselves, putting our businesses at a distinct disadvantage to the marina and restaurant down the street that don’t have to incur those expenses and delays.”

She encouraged the amendment of the TWIC requirements to exclude small operations who know their employees by sight. “Congress meant to make our commercial port facilities as safe as possible,” she said. “Ensnaring a small operation like mine in excessive costs and delays was not what they envisioned.”

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