TSA begins port worker ID enrollments

Program is bellwether for similiar federal initiatives

Ending a three-month delay, the Transportation Workers Identification Credential program is ready to begin enrollments of port workers on Oct. 16, the Homeland Security Department announced Thursday.

The department's Transportation Security Administration released a schedule of enrollments for 750,000 port workers at various ports, beginning with Wilmington, Del., on Oct. 16 and extending to 11 other ports.

The schedule was included in a 469-page revised final rule for TWIC published yesterday.

The long-awaited TWIC enrollment of marine employees is one of the first debuts of a large-scale U.S. government-issued biometric identification card under the Federal Information Processing Standard 201. Its success or failure could affect the status of several other FIPS-201 biometric identification programs in the works, including upcoming ID card programs for millions more transportation workers and federal government employees.

Federal contractors view the biometric identification card market as a major opportunity during the next several years due to programs such as TWIC and federal worker ID cards under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12.

TWIC has been in development for at least three years. In 2006, it was determined that the biometric identification cards would conform to FIPS-201. In February 2007, Lockheed Martin Corp. was awarded a $70 million contract for issuing TWIC cards to 750,000 port workers. Under congressional order, the TWIC enrollments were to begin July 1 but were delayed until this month due to additional testing.

Initially, however, the TWIC cards will not be read by readers. In September, TSA announced it had adopted for the TWIC an industry specification for contactless readers with an encryption scheme. The agency said it would begin testing readers meeting those specifications.

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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