TWIC card, management costs rise as program gears up

Transportation Worker Identification Credential Implementation in the Maritime Sector (.pdf)

Related Links

The Transportation Worker Identification Credential may burn a hole in some maritime workers’ wallets. They can expect to pay $139 to $159 for their first TWIC card and $60 for a replacement, according to estimated prices that appear in a final rule published earlier this month.

Certain employees, such as merchant mariners and hazardous materials workers, will pay a reduced cost of $107 to $127 per card.

Card costs have increased since the Transportation Security Administration and the Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking in May 2006. At that time, TSA predicted that card prices would be about $10 less than the estimated prices that appear in the Jan. 3 final rule.

Projected costs for TWIC’s identity management system are up from $18 million to $44 million, a 144 percent increase, according to the final rule.

The TWIC program will issue biometric smart cards for use as a standard identification badge for nearly 850,000 maritime port transportation workers nationwide once a contract is awarded, which is expected to happen in March. TSA will require all workers seeking access to secure areas at maritime facilities and onboard vessels to have a TWIC card no later than September 2008.

The 469-page final rule incorporates more than 1,900 public comments from an open comment period and four public meetings. TSA is soliciting further comments for a rule on biometric specifications that it will issue sometime later this year.

TSA has not awarded a contract for card enrollment, although it expects to do so in coming weeks, said TSA spokeswoman Amy Kudwa. 

Union representatives said they are unsure if the cards’ high cost is justified, especially because card readers will not be available during the initial implementation.

“Not knowing really what the timetable is for the card readers makes the card less effective in its use,” said Fred McLuckie, legislative director at the Teamsters Union.

“Are there going to be flaws, ways around it?” McLuckie asked. “In not having card readers, it raises the question of what the initial value of the card is.” Card manufacturers said TSA may be acting prematurely by issuing TWIC cards before publishing a final rule on biometric specifications.

“I’m not sure we’re going to be seeing fully enabled biometric-capable cards by March,” said Neville Pattinson, director of technology and government affairs at Gemalto, a French smart card manufacturer. The company is participating in a number of TWIC program bids.

“I suspect that TSA will start issuing TWIC cards as soon as possible and then either revisit or update them as needed later in the year,” Pattinson said.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group