TWIC IDs could leave secure areas open to a terrorist attack, GAO finds

The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) secure identification card is not as secure as necessary to prevent a potential terrorist attack at U.S. ports, according to a Government Accountability Office report released this month.

In its report, GAO found that the Transportation Security Administration does not have adequate processes in place to ensure that the TWIC biometric ID cards don't fall into the wrong hands. TSA cannot guarantee that only qualified applicants receive TWIC IDs, people who have received TWIC ID cards remain eligible to have them, and reviewers apply standard criteria for evaluating applicants with criminal records, according to the report.

In addition, undercover GAO auditors exposed physical security weaknesses at several U.S. ports by entering secure areas with counterfeit TWIC cards and real cards obtained fraudulently, the report states.

About the Author

Connect with the FCW staff on Twitter @FCWnow.

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

Tue, May 17, 2011 Fort Huachuca

I agree 100% with the report -- I have a TWIC based on a semi-valid need. The process requires two visits to a location to get the card - both visits require two forms of valid ID - - but I was never questioned on the true verified need to have the card . . . .

Thu, May 12, 2011 RayW

Any ID system (currently) that is not based on a face to face vouchering of the person is subject to fraud. If man can create a perfect ID, then someone else can make a perfect forgery. And the more user friendly the ID has to be, the more vulnerable it is.

Then you have the human factor to make mistakes and to bend rules, in most cases no stereotyping since all must be equally treated and to the lowest common denominator. That means that checklist investigations are performed that can not/are not allowed to see beyond a narrow range of questions. And the folks who are dishonest know how to tweak their responses/environment to get the "right" answers.

The Chinese have forged/compromised CAC certificates, Mexicans have forged US driver licenses and forged US Social Security cards that look real, and the list goes on.

The problem with better and better ID, is that most people expect "better" to mean "more secure", and that is true, for a few days. But after that, the "better" only means the honest folks are less likely to just walk in. Then the people inside become more lax and assume that the bad guys who want in have the same disadvantage as folks outside who do not care.

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