TWIC card delivery lagging behind applications
Applications for the federal Transportation Worker Identification Credential card remained steady through the end of July, with more than 372,000 applicants signed up for the cards and about 182,000 cards issued.
|TWIC enrollment trends for May and June. Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.|
However, at most of the 138 ports accepting applications for the cards, including some of the nation's busiest, the number of cards issued are still less than half of those applied for.
The TWIC program, established by Congress in 2002 through the Maritime Transportation Security Act, requires that workers seeking access to the nation's ports receive a thorough federal background check, be cleared by the Department of Homeland Security and display the TWIC card when entering port facilities.
The DHS, through the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, announced the implementation of the TWIC program in January 2007 and began a phased enrollment at different locations throughout the nation in October 2007. To date, 138 ports have begun enrollment of workers in the plan and the TSA expects to have all 147 ports included in the program begin enrollment by the end of September.
According to DHS documents, less than half of the workers who have applied for the TWIC card at most ports have actually received them. Three of the five ports with the largest number of applicants, only the adjacent ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach has broken the 50 percent mark, with 26,088 enrollments through June 27 and 13,619 cards issued, or 52 percent. The percentages for the other four are: Mobile (45.3 percent), Baton Rouge (45.1 percent), New Orleans (43.1 percent) and Houston (33.4 percent).
Through June, DHS is reporting that only 429,255 pre-enrollments have been filed, well short of the 1 million workers the agency estimated would apply for the card. The Coast Guard suggested to Congress last year that the actual number of workers who will need to have a TWIC card could be as high as 1.5 million.
In March, DHS moved the final compliance date for workers to obtain the TWIC card from this September to April 15, 2009. Operators of maritime and other facilities falling under the TWIC guidelines must have access controls in place to read the cards by the same date.