Concern about whether the Transportation Security Administration will be able to efficiently handle the renewal of large numbers of Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC) expiring this year was raised Tuesday by Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., at a hearing of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Coast Guard and maritime transport subcommittee.
“I don’t know if I am misinformed, but I was told that we actually have no plan moving forward from either the TSA or Coast Guard to prepare for the nearly 60,000 port workers who will need to renew their TWIC badges this year” in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Hahn said, expressing concern about the port being completely shut down if longshoremen and drivers are not able to get their badges.
“Ma’am, you’ve caught me cold on that one,” said Adm. Robert Papp, commandant of the Coast Guard. “Frankly, I’m not aware of that problem.”
He added recently he has gotten positive feedback on how easy it is to get the cards which are required for mariners and port workers, including drayage drivers.
The TWIC program is a joint initiative of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Coast Guard.
Papp added if workers have a TWIC and the Coast Guard is aware of the problem, “a solution can be found because part of the beauty of TWIC is having one identifiable card across the entire industry that we can use instead of multiple ones. So it makes it much easier, if there is a problem to come up with a unified position that we can take to either accept those cards and know even though the date might be expired know that we can continue to use it for some certain period of time, but I don’t have the details.”
Art Wong, a spokesman for the Port of Long Beach, said there have been some discussions about whether it might be possible to locate an office closer to the port to make it easier for workers to renew their TWIC cards, as was done when they were first issued five years ago.
In February, TSA said in a press release it had been “contacted by a number of stakeholders interested in establishing mobile enrollment and activation services” for TWIC renewals.
But TSA said “with current resources, all mobile enrollment and activation capability has been filled” with the contractor who works on the program for TSA, Lockheed Martin. It said the contract will be transferred to another company, MorphoTrust, this summer.
In a telephone interview with American Shipper
, Jill Taylor, homeland security manager at the Port of Los Angeles, said in March members of the port security committee of the American Association of Port Authorities met and the issue was discussed with TSA during a conference call and concerns were raised.
She said TSA increased the size of its call center for the cards from 40 to 139 persons in August and is adding additional staff, and the ability to order TWIC cards online will be added. Taylor recently renewed her own card in a process that lasted about 32 minutes, and was told she would be able to pick up her card in about a week.
“It’s not perfect, but it is improving,” she said. - Chris Dupin