AAPA Security Committee Chairman Testifies Before House Subcommittee on Port Worker ID Credential Issues
Emphasizes impacts from delaying final TWIC rule
Massachusetts Port Authority Maritime Security Director Joe Lawless, testifying today on behalf of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, said that all U.S. seaport facilities are impacted by the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) requirements. Impacts include increased costs to ports for equipment and personnel, and potential loss of previously-awarded security grant funding.
Mr. Lawless, who is also chairman of AAPA’s Security Committee, told attendees of the hearing, entitled “A Review of the Delays and Problems Associated With TSA’s Transportation Worker Identification Credential,” that port association members have worked closely with the Transportation Security Administration and its contractors to educate the maritime workforce about the legal requirements to obtain a TWIC.
AAPA has also encouraged a TWIC registration process that is convenient and run efficiently.
“The next phase of TWIC will be the (card) reader rule, and there are concerns about who will be covered, the cost and whether readers will work efficiently,” Mr. Lawless testified. He further noted that, due to the major decrease in Port Security Grant funding, the burden of card reader costs may fall on port facilities.
Early in the TWIC process, owners of U.S. port facilities were led to believe they would need a card reader, and many applied for a federal Port Security Grant for this purpose. Subsequently, the Coast Guard proposed only requiring facilities that handle hazardous and dangerous cargo to install card readers.
In his testimony, Mr. Lawless reiterated AAPA’s comments to the Coast Guard public record on TWIC card readers, saying that a port’s risk and associated reader requirements should be based on a variety of risk factors, not just what type of vessels call a marine facility or the type of cargo that is handled.
“While AAPA was happy to learn of a more modest proposal, this caused some confusion in the industry, as the final regulations were put on hold for several years,” reported Mr. Lawless. “Ports with (security) grants were unsure what to do with the money. Some reprogrammed the money and others decided to install the infrastructure, without knowing what the final requirements would be.”
Because the final rule has been delayed and its regulations are unknown, some ports are struggling with how to use funds granted them for this purpose, which must be spent within a five-year period. AAPA supports congressional proposals to extend the five-year period until after the final rule is issued.
Mr. Lawless concluded by encouraging the Coast Guard to continue its proposed rulemaking process so ports can take advantage of Port Security Grant funds provided for reader implementation. “Further delay will result in transferring the bulk of this federal mandate to the facilities rather than the shared process envisioned when the Port Security Grant program was established,” he said.