Congress hits DHS on TWIC readers

Recently, the beleaguered TWIC program took yet another body blow.

And this one will hit the federal agency that administers the much-criticized security credential program right where it hurts — in the pocketbook.

On June 4, the House approved a budget for the Department of Homeland Security that would withhold $30 million until the agency demonstrates how the proposed rule requiring certain vessels, facilities and ports to use TWIC readers would enhance maritime security.

This decision is in line with recommendations contained in a recent report by the GAO that said results of a pilot program to test readers under different maritime conditions were “incomplete, inaccurate and unreliable” to be used in drafting the final reader rule.

If the Senate goes along and the 2014 Appropriations bill for DHS becomes law, the money would be docked until the department completes a security assessment of the TWIC readers. DHS would also have to brief Congress on how long it takes to renew expiring TWICs, especially under the Extended Expiration Date, and what measures are being taken to assure timely renewals of credentials.

Meanwhile, until ordered otherwise, DHS and most specifically the Coast Guard, are moving ahead with the reader program, collecting public comments on the proposal through June 20.

We already know what Congress thinks.

About the author

Pamela Glass

Pamela Glass is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for WorkBoat. She reports on the decisions and deliberations of congressional committees and federal agencies that affect the maritime industry, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to coming to WorkBoat, she covered coastal, oceans and maritime industry news for 15 years for newspapers in coastal areas of Massachusetts and Michigan for Ottaway News Service, a division of the Dow Jones Company. She began her newspaper career at the New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times. A native of Massachusetts, she is a 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University (Conn.). She currently resides in Potomac, Md.

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