Coast Guard softens TWIC rules at ports

With less than two weeks until the Homeland Security Department begins enforcement for its new identification card for 1.2 million seaport workers on April 14, the Coast Guard has softened the rules for the five remaining port zones until May 13.

The Coast Guard said April 2 it would allow interim equivalent security measures for the ports of Houston/Galveston, Port Arthur (Texas), Los Angeles/Long Beach, Guam and San Juan until May 13 to help commerce at those facilities. Those measures allow eligible workers to access secure areas of the ports once their security threat assessments are complete, which occurs prior to receiving and activating their identification cards.

“At these ports, Coast Guard personnel ensure workers in secure areas have received a thorough background check and do not pose a threat,” the service said.

Previously, the deadline was April 14 for nationwide compliance under the Transportation Workers Security Credential (TWIC) program. After then, all port workers are supposed to display their biometric TWIC credential for unescorted access to secure areas of the ports.

On March 10, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it had reached enrollment of 1 million workers for the TWIC card. Also on that date, 37 of the nation’s 42 port zones complied with the TWIC program.

In the TWIC program, workers provide personal information and fingerprints for the identification card and are vetted by a security threat assessment TSA. Once enrolled, they must pick up and activate their TWIC cards and display them when entering the secure port areas.

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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