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DHS readies TWIC rollout

Agencies responsible for the Homeland Security Department’s Transportation Worker Identity Credential (TWIC) expect to begin biometric enrollment for the permits by October, after the Sept. 18 release of technical specifications for the identity cards.

The program to provide biometric credentials to workers at ports and other transport hubs has experienced multiple delays and cost overruns in the past four years, partly because of unsettled questions about biometric technologies. Paul Schneider, DHS’ undersecretary for management, told the House Homeland Security Committee that the department plans to release a detailed enrollment schedule shortly.

The TWIC standard specifies a nonproprietary contactless radio frequency identification system and interoperability with the Federal Information Processing Standard 201-1 for personal identity verification cards. The standard calls for the use of cryptography to safeguard data privacy and strengthen system security.

The specifications include a recommendation that the TWIC card reader systems provide a biometric liveness detection feature, which is an ability to determine whether a fingerprint comes from an individual or a replica of a fingerprint.

DISA mulls capability broker

Defense Information Systems Agency officials are considering establishing an independent technology capability broker to help the agency identify promising commercial technologies that could be adapted for military use, said John Garing, DISA’s director of strategic planning and information.

Garing pointed to General Motors’ OnStar system, which can retrieve vehicle diagnostic information, as an example of the kind of information technology tool that could offer widespread benefits for military vehicle fleet managers.

We want to “look for technologies that aren’t necessarily known to the defense industry,” said David Bennett, DISA’s deputy director for command and control capabilities.

If DISA officials decide to move forward with the concept, the agency would likely issue a request for proposals in the first quarter of fiscal 2008, Bennett said.

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