Lately it seems like mariners are being hassled at every turn, with TWIC at the top of the list.
Admittedly, it’s been smooth sailing for many mariners who have already obtained their Transportation Worker Identification Credential. Others, however, have labored through a process “highlighted” by long waits in person and on the phone, computer glitches, processing problems, incomplete databases and fingerprint reader errors.
In our report that begins on page 28, we found that processing delays have been caused by everything from problems with card activation to card printing backlogs and poor communication. A big problem area appears to be the notification process, with some mariners never informed that their cards were ready to be picked up.
The American Waterways Operators says there is a “high level of frustration with the process.” “Implementation has been horrible,” confirmed Z. David DeLoach, president of DeLoach Marine Services . “Our overall experience has been poor,” said Stirlin Hancock, Golding Barge Line ‘s human resources manager who found out first-hand how bad it was when he had to make four trips to the local TWIC enrollment center because a computer problem indicated that his application was in error.
Boat operators place a lot of the blame on the Transportation Security Administration , which oversees the program. They say TSA is too bureaucratic, inflexible, and not interested in making the changes needed to improve the TWIC application process.
The federal government has had over five years to get this right since the passage of the 2002 legislation that mandated that mariners and other transportation workers carry a TWIC. But like most security-related jobs the feds have tried to tackle since 9/11, they bungled this one too, and the ones paying are boat operators and mariners (and taxpayers!).
TSA doesn’t understand how companies struggle to find deckhands and other workers and how paying up front for a card for a worker who may only last one trip is a waste of money and resources.
TSA has worked out a lot of the bugs, but at this late stage in the game obtaining a TWIC should be virtually hassle free.