Yesterday, during a hearing convened to review the progress of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings
(D-Md.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard
and Maritime Transportation, called upon Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Coast Guard
to address the issues impeding a seamless introduction of the program.
The TWIC card was designed to prevent access to secure areas of maritime transportation facilities by individuals who pose a threat to our nation’s security. However, reports from workers as well as port authorities have revealed several glitches in the rollout of the program, causing severe inconveniences for those affected by the new measure.
“When workers must pay to enroll in a program necessary for them to do their jobs and provide for their families, they have the right to expect reliable, efficient service with little to no interruption to their schedules,” Congressman Cummings said. “It is imperative that Lockheed Martin address the concerns raised during today’s hearing regarding its customer service—including through assurances that every new enrollment center is ready and able to smoothly operate on day one.”
According to reports from the first 90 days of TWIC enrollment, workers enrolling in the program have experienced severe deficiencies in customer service, ranging from dysfunctional computers and loss of worker data to delays of up to five hours. One station expected to serve over 30,000 people was staffed with only one employee, while another station closed for the day when its printer ran out of toner.
Additionally, while a deadline for enrollment has been established for mariners, the Coast Guard has yet to announce the dates when ports must begin using the credentials. There has also been no clearly established outline distinguishing which maritime vessels must install the machine to read the TWIC cards or set deadlines for land facilities to install the readers.
“When the government is imposing new procedures on businesses, it must ensure that these requirements are accompanied by a clear date of implementation and a reasonable timeline for compliance,” Congressman Cummings said. “The Coast Guard must separate from its long history of delays in the promulgation of rules so that mariners and businesses affected by TWIC are able to plan accordingly.”
In response to the concerns raised at today’s hearing, Congressman Cummings instructed the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, and Lockheed Martin to provide a status report on the TWIC enrollment process within 75 days.