Testing delays TWIC card rollout

The Transportation Workers Identification Credential missed its July 1 rollout partly because its systems are undergoing extra testing, a TSA official testified Thursday.

"We have an additional complexity," Maurine Fanguy, TWIC manager for TSA, told the House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, in describing the new testing.

TSA, a component of the Homeland Security Department, is conducting additional tests to align the card with its threat assessment and screening data.

While the missed deadline was acknowledged weeks ago, it was the first time the agency has publicly provided a detailed description of the testing that is currently occurring.

The TWIC networks will be connected to the TSA Screening Gateway, which aggregates security threat assessment data, working with the FBI, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and TSA's Colorado Springs Operations Center, according to Fanguy.

"It is important to note that the Screening Gateway is used across all of TSA's vetting programs. Not only must the internal components of the TWIC card work together, they must work in combination with a larger Screening Gateway. Rigorous performance testing is the only way to know for sure that TWIC is ready to go live. That is where we are in the process, and what remains is the testing," Fanguy said.

Under the SAFE Port Act, TWIC was to begin enrollment at 10 ports on July 1. It is now projected to begin enrolling port workers in the fall in Wilmington, Del., Fanguy said.

Fanguy said other obstacles also have delayed TWIC in the recent months, including the decision last year to align the TWIC credential with Federal Information Processing Standard 201, activities to close potential data privacy gaps in the card technology and modifications in the program to incorporate comments from the rulemaking process.

"TWIC is an advanced, sophisticated credentialing system. The greatest technological challenge that we are addressing is not the card itself as much as it is the network behind the card. Breaking new ground in technology has obvious advantages but it always brings schedule risk, and TWIC is no different," Fanguy said.

"Given a choice between meeting the deadline and program integrity, we chose the latter," she 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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