GAO criticizes ID card planning

Officials at the Government Accountability Office issued a report today criticizing the Transportation Security Administration for not releasing the Maritime Worker Identification Card program on schedule due to a lack of planning.

The report states that TSA officials had trouble gaining approval for the prototype, needed extra time to identify data to be collected for a cost-benefit analysis and needed additional work to assess card technologies. Above all, they lack a comprehensive plan for managing the project. The Maritime Worker Identification Card is part of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program.

TSA officials planned to issue the cards in August to about 6 million maritime workers but missed the target date.

Right now, there is no timeline. Appropriations were reduced because of delays in the prototype phase. "One would expect that before putting more money into the program, DHS [officials] would have taken action on the GAO's recommendations in order to ensure that future resources will not be wasted," said Margaret Wrightson, GAO's director for homeland security and justice issues. "DHS is at risk of making unwise investments now."

DHS officials responded to GAO in a letter and generally agreed with the comments, but added a few of their own. The department has significant program management controls in place, and officials are developing a risk management plan for TWIC, according to the letter, signed by Anna Dixon, DHS' director for departmental GAO and inspector general liaison.

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