Evolving TWIC program explained



Question and answer with John Schwartz, Transportation Worker Identification Credential program manager


The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) biometric credential is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiative to ensure only vetted workers gain unescorted access to secure areas of a port or vessel regulated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act. To obtain a TWIC, individuals provide biographic and biometric information such as fingerprints, are photographed, and must pass a security threat assessment conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

A chip embedded in the credential card stores data which can be read by insertion or contactless readers. The photo identification card also contains a magnetic strip and a linear barcode as alternative reading methods. This Q & A with Jon Schwartz, Transportation Worker Identification Credential program manager for the Transportation Security Administration, provides responses to important questions faced by future credential candidates and the more than 2 million people already enrolled in the program.

There is a new contractor for TWIC enrolment, how will that impact the renewal process for a TWIC and when will this change occur?

TSA selected a Universal Enrolment Services (UES) provider to take over expiring enrolment contracts, including TWIC. This provider will establish new enrolment sites, largely in the same geographic areas, and will begin transitioning responsibility early next year. TSA anticipates a 50 percent increase in the number of enrolment centres, which should facilitate applications.

There have been reported problems with TWIC card antennas being broken, can you report what TSA has done to address this problem?

Some TWIC cards can be impacted by normal wear and tear, temperature and humidity, and use. Future action will be determined, as necessary.

Many ports offered mobile enrolment centres and used bulk payments for TWICs. What process should they follow if they want to do this again during the enrolment period?
How should this be timed?

During the transition period to UES, the contractor (Lockheed Martin) is offering mobile enrolment and activation services to companies or entities interested in receiving (and able to fund) on-site TWIC services and bulk payment options. This applies to initial or card renewal enrolments as well as for obtaining extended expiration date (EED) TWICs.

What is the difference between renewing cards the normal way and using the three-year extended expiration date TWIC? Why might a worker want to get one or the other?

The three-year EED TWIC, at a reduced fee of $60.00, is offered because the Final Rule has not been promulgated for TWIC card readers. The EED TWIC will be accepted by the U.S. Coast Guard, port and vessel operators. It is a one-time temporary extension of the current card; upon expiration, all EED TWIC holders will be required to enrol for a standard five-year TWIC. Those TWIC holders who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals or who do not wish to use the EED TWIC option now, may renew their expiring TWICs with a five-year card.

Which agency is responsible for the final TWIC reader rule (TSA or U.S. Coast Guard) and what is the timeline for those regulations?

The TWIC reader regulation is a DHS-wide priority and the Coast Guard is responsible for the TWIC reader rulemaking. The Coast Guard intends to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, to consider the findings of the TWIC reader pilot program and to and readers deployed at the facilities with the highest risk within three years.

If a port wants to buy TWIC readers before the final rule goes into effect, are there guidelines for which readers to buy? What is TSA’s long-term plan to approve readers?

TSA maintains a list of readers that initially provided guidance to facility and vessel operators participating in the TWIC reader pilot. This Initial Capabilities Evaluation (ICE) list may still be used to guide operators in making reader decisions now. However, by the end of this year, TSA expects to replace the ICE list with a new Qualified Technology List of card readers certified under the future TWIC reader rule.


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