ALEXANDRIA, VA – The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today welcomed publication in the Federal Register the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed rules regarding implementation of the long-awaited Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). Adoption of these rules, once finalized, will create a standardized nationwide identification procedure for those needing unescorted access to secure areas of seaports and vessels. This includes truck drivers, longshore workers, port authority staff and contractors, and vessel and rail operators.
“AAPA is pleased that the process to develop the TWIC is now moving forward at an expedited pace,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO. “Public ports have been waiting for uniform port access standards ever since the Maritime Transportation Security Act mandated them in 2002. These rules will guide our member ports regarding investments in personnel security clearance systems at their facilities that they didn’t have previously.”
Mr. Nagle noted that the port industry will review the proposed regulations and provide written comments on the TWIC rulemaking during the 45-day comment period that started today. “We’re hopeful that the proposed federal identification and credentialing system will be compatible with systems that individual ports have been required to implement leading up to the new TWIC system,” he said.
Among the chief concerns of AAPA member ports is paying for TWIC implementation, which DHS has estimated will cost between $299 million and $325 million. “It’s important that the $227 million proposed for the Port Security Grant program in the fiscal year 2006 emergency supplemental appropriations bill now before Congress be retained in the final bill so that ports have an opportunity to apply for this money to help them pay for TWIC implementation,” remarked Mr. Nagle, adding that the actual TWIC implementation costs may be higher than DHS estimates.
The U.S. Coast Guard is tasked with enforcing the new maritime worker credentialing rules at port facilities. TWIC regulations will require that facilities clearly define their secure areas and allow only those with valid TWIC cards to have unescorted access to those areas. Facility operators will be responsible for ensuring each transportation worker’s identity by checking it against a Transportation Security Administration-issued “hot list.” Port facilities will also be required to install biometric card readers at access points to match fingerprints of TWIC cardholders and incorporate contingency plans in the event of a system or power failure.
DHS Deputy Secretary Michael P. Jackson said the agency plans to begin issuing TWIC cards by the end of 2006 and will require installation of TWIC card readers at port facilities later.
During the TWIC rollout phase, DHS will allow applicants to pre-enroll via the Internet and then visit an enrollment office to submit fingerprints, show identity documentation, have a digital photo taken and pay the fee. This process will be handled by TSA contractors at locations around the country. TSA will then conduct terrorist, immigration and criminal history checks against the applicant data, adjudicate results and provide denied applicants with an appeals process. There is a waiver process for applicants who do not meet certain criminal standards requirements.
To view “Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Implementation in the Maritime Sector; Proposed Rules” in the Federal Register, click on /govrelations/TWICrule_5-22-06.pdf.