Transportation worker ID has hefty price tag

Industry executives anticipate that the cost of fully deploying the Transportation Workers Identification Credential will fall between $100 million to $150 million, according to Walter Hamilton, vice president of Saflink Corp. of Bellevue, Wash., and chairman of the International Biometric Industry Association.

That price tag includes the expense of 10 million cards distributed to transportation workers nationwide, Hamilton told Washington Technology in an interview.

The cost estimate is for $7 to $8 per card, plus the management of the infrastructure, systems, purchase of IT and staffing, Hamilton said. A large portion of the total cost is expected to be paid for by fees to be collected from participants in the program.

The long-awaited identification card, which will be issued by the Homeland Security Department, is now on a fast track with a request for proposals for phase IV to be delivered to qualified contractors on or around May 8. The contract for phase IV implementation is expected to be awarded July 31.

The TWIC program was initiated in March 2003 and has completed two prototype phases. In its 2007 budget request, the White House does not offer a line item for the transportation worker credential, which would cover 850,000 port workers, according to a DHS announcement posted March 31.

In phase IV, the Transportation Security Administration is likely to seek contractors to coordinate the background checks, enrollment and issuing of the cards, industry sources said.

They would leave the daily operation of the program, including the purchase, maintenance and operation of card readers and ongoing verifications of credentials for port workers, to the port and terminal operators.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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