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US port ID card scheme begins

  • Friday, 02 November 2007 | News

The US Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) ID card scheme is finally underway after five years of discussion and deliberation, with the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas yesterday joining the Port of Wilmington, Delaware, as the first ports to begin the enrolment of maritime workers under programme.

Eleven more ports are to be added during the course of November, with a further five ports to begin testing electronic card reading systems, according to the DHS. More than 1 million workers across the US with unescorted access to secure areas, such as ports, will be expected to apply for a TWIC card during the rest of 2007 and in 2008.

The TWIC scheme, which will restrict access to ports to people carrying the government-issued cards, has been plagued by delays and criticisms during its five year history, with many still disappointed at the progress that has been made despite the commencement of enrolments.

At a hearing held by the House Homeland Security Committee's subcommittee on border, maritime and global counterterrorism, committee chair Bennie Thompson said that the system had failed to meet requirements in a number of different areas.

"The Department began rolling out the TWIC program, which was mandated five years ago, just two weeks ago," said Mr Thompson in a statement. "Already there are glaring problems."

"TWIC readers are years away from installation. Without the readers, a TWIC is merely a flash pass that can be fraudulently duplicated and misused."

However, Maurine Fanguy, programme director for TWIC at the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), defended the initiative, and said that substantial progress had been made in the last six months that would improve the operation of the system, particularly in relation to the design and testing of the ID card readers.

?The TWIC program is moving towards its objectives while making sound decisions focused on enhancing port security and a reasoned, phased-in program implementation approach,? she said.

Mentioning yesterday's launch in Texas she added: "?We appreciate the support of our partners at the port of Corpus Christi for helping to make one of the world's most advanced interoperable biometric systems a reality."

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