Additional testing recommended for worker ID card

Technologies to be used in the federal government's Transportation Workers Identification Credential card program need to be more fully tested in real-life situations at ports before proceeding implementation of the credential, according to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).

Implementation of TWIC ought to be delayed, rules should be made more flexible and technologies involved ought to be rigorously tested and certified by the government before being broadly applied, the trade group wrote in comments about the proposed rules for the ID card program. The AAPA represents 150 major U.S. ports.

AAPA identified more than a dozen concerns in the proposed TWIC implementation plan, and are advising numerous modifications.

The association states that while the Homeland Security Department has tested the ID card in the prototype phase of TWIC, there was not extensive testing of biometric card reader requirements in the maritime environment. Unlike airport terminals, port facilities are located outdoors and exposed to water, humidity and salt, as well as high-volume traffic.

"AAPA knows of no successful large-scale application or testing of the efficiency of the biometric system in the maritime environment in the U.S.," the comment letter stated.

While the association strongly supports the TWIC card as an enhancement to security, it urges a "more phased-in and flexible approach" to implementation.

Without careful implementation, TWIC could cause significant congestion and inefficiencies at ports and impose high costs on port authorities, the port authorities group said.

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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