Transportation Worker Identification Credentials, or TWIC cards, were described as a “joke” during hearings before the U.S. House of Representative’s Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee last week.
The hearings came as the Government Accountability Office issued a report that said 11 years after initiation of the program the Department of Homeland Security “has not demonstrated how, if at all, TWIC will improve maritime security.”
GAO said a review of a pilot test aimed at assessing the technology and operational impact of using TWIC cards with a reader “showed that the test's results were incomplete, inaccurate, and unreliable for informing Congress and for developing a regulation (rule) about the readers.”
“Challenges related to pilot planning, data collection, and reporting affected the completeness, accuracy, and reliability of the results. These issues call into question the program's premise and effectiveness in enhancing security,” said GAO.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said TWIC was intended to be a card with a biometric component and “be a secure, durable indentication that could ensure the indentity of those entering secure areas in our port facilties.”
He called TWIC a “poster child for programs that run amuck and do not get the job done.”
“GAO continues to find that TSA is failing to properly administer the TWIC program,” he said, adding GAO’s most recent report “cites a whole host of problems with the program” and that while the cards have been issued since 2007, there are still no readers for them.
Nearly 2.3 million cards have been issued since 2007 of which more than 1 million are soon due for renewal.
“What you have is a farcical system of a card that - not by my evaluation, but which previous GAO studies have shown - is not what we intended,” Mica said.
“What you have is a card that is produced at great expense to individual workers, at great expense to the government, does not have a guarantee that it is a secure card, it is tamper-able,” he added.” It has become a joke among transportation workers because in almost every port they are now required to produce a driver’s license or some other identification that is used for entry.” - Chris Dupin