TWIC card enrollment to begin

Ending a three-month delay, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program will begin enrolling port workers Oct. 16, the Homeland Security Department announced Oct. 4.

The department’s Transportation Security Administration released a schedule for enrolling 750,000 workers at various ports, beginning at Wilmington, Del., and continuing at 11 other ports.

The schedule was included in a 469-page final rule for TWIC published last week.

The long-awaited enrollment of port employees marks one of the first deployments of a large-scale, government-issued biometric identification card that adheres to 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 employees.

Federal contractors view the biometric ID market as a major opportunity for the next several years because of mandates such as TWIC and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12.

TWIC has been in development for about three years. In 2006, the government decided that the biometric cards would conform to FIPS 201. In February 2007, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $70 million contract to issue the cards to 750,000 port workers. Under a congressional order, the TWIC enrollments were to begin July 1 but were delayed until this month to allow for additional testing.

However, machine readers will not be available when the first TWIC cards are issued. In September, TSA announced it had adopted an industry specification for contactless readers and would soon begin testing devices that meet those specifications.

Alice Lipowicz writes for Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

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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