DHS to begin worker ID enrollment in October

The Homeland Security Department is aiming for early October to begin enrolling individuals for the Transportation Workers Identification Credential, a top homeland security official said.

The exact date has not yet been set, Paul A. Schneider, DHS undersecretary for management, told the House Homeland Security Committee this week. DHS has chosen the port of Wilmington, Del., as the site for the initial enrollments.

Although an exact date for the start of the enrollment process has not yet been set, the department expects to release a detailed schedule shortly with the enrollment sites and dates of initiating enrollments, Schneider said.

The department's goal initially was to begin enrollments in March 2007. That was pushed back to the fall of 2007 due to technical problems.

One of the technical hurdles has been confirmation of the process by which the card member is enrolled online, the application goes through a screening process and the card is authorized and issued, Schneider said. The process is being checked in end-to-end testing this month.

Enrollment will begin after those tests are completed. "On the assumption that we complete successfully the end-to-end system test this week or next week, it will be shortly after the first part of October in the Port of Wilmington," Schneider said at the Sept. 18 hearing.

Under the program, 750,000 port workers are to be issued a smart card with biometric information conforming to the Federal Information Processing Standard 201. Initially, the information will not be read electronically. DHS has not released a specification for readers for the TWIC because port managers in January protested the use of contact readers requiring insertion of the cards. The managers said those readers would quickly degrade in the salty, windy port environments.

Schneider said he has been meeting biweekly with the TWIC program managers and high-level DHS officials to resolve a number of technical glitches. At the House hearing, he also noted problems with barcodes on the cards and with software for the TWIC printers.

"We were having problems getting the software to make the printers work. We had problems with 1-D barcodes. We had all kinds of problems and the fact of the matter is we believe we have most of those technical problems in hand," Schneider told the House committee.

Schneider also addressed the TWIC in a hearing on Sept. 6 with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

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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