GAO Reports on TWIC Challenges

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued its report on challenges relating to the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. Issuance of TWICs to maritime workers was delayed, but is now largely completed. A significant source of delay was the power failure at the government facility processing TWIC data. Full recovery from that incident pends and the cost is estimated at $26m. Development of the electronic card reader faces challenges due to inadequate planning. GAO-10-43 (12/10/09).

Source: Bryant’s Maritime News

To TWIC or not to TWIC, that is the question? For those of you who are looking at this acronym twice and thinking it’s a chocolate bar, read on.   The Transportation Security Administration defines the TWIC card as “a common identification credential for all personnel requiring unescorted access to secure areas of Maritime Transportation Security Act-regulated facilities and vessels, and all mariners holding Coast Guard-issued credentials.”  In other words, if you’re working on the water, above the water, near the water, you’re going to need one of these prized pieces of plastic.  Sorry Charlie.

In response to reading the article about the Reports on TWIC Challenges, I have to say I am not surprised by the incident.  Engineers and divers at our firm had to comply with this new program and we had a few problems ourselves.  We had to continually check the status and follow up with numerous members of the Help Desk before receiving the card which should not be an issue if we followed their protocol by pre-enrolling, getting fingerprinted, scheduling the interview and filling out all necessary paperwork.

With the TWIC incident and its “inadequate planning” and many other events that have transpired in recent years, it is easy to pin our society as reactive rather than proactive.  This article also comes at a time where our nation is rushing to push through a healthcare reform.  Is it ready?  Who knows? While no one can deny the urgency of the matter, its best to take the time to make sure it is done right the first time.  I agree this should apply to all government programs, TWIC cards, healthcare, you name it.  It is best to be thorough and get it right instead of trying to pick up the pieces after disaster strikes due to being too hasty with important legislation.

However, if you know you must obtain a TWIC card, I highly recommend reading the TWIC information on the Transportation Security Administration website ( thoroughly before you begin the 6-8 week process.  Note to self:  don’t punch a hole in your card thinking you’ll put it on a nifty lanyard so you don’t lose it.  The hole can “disable or obstruct security features on the card, invalidate electronic/technology components within the card that are necessary for electronic verification, and may impair the ability to conduct a full visual inspection of the security features on the card.”  It will cost you $60.00 to replace.  I wish I had better news for you, but I will leave you with well wishes with your reading and application process!

-Melissa Stein


~ by castle2268 on December 28, 2009.

One Response to “GAO Reports on TWIC Challenges”

  1. Governments react when they are pressured by the public. But this seems to lead to politicians trying to please people today and neglecting long term issues such as public infrastructure ect.

    There are so many great technologies available these days for underwater inspection to help people determine what needs to be repaired and plan their budgets accordingly. The industry has started to list a directory of underwater inspection tools at

    Hopefully significant accidents don’t need to occur before people recognize the need to maintain our underwater infrastructure.

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