TWIC: A $3.2 billion boondoggle

Last month I wrote that the Transportation Worker Identification (TWIC) program was still useless and a big waste of money. More specifically, the program is a $3.2 billion waste of taxpayers’ money.

As Pamela Glass reported in the August issue of WorkBoat, maritime security talk is no longer about terrorists. It’s about TWIC. There have been no acts of terrorism against ports or vessels in the U.S. since 9/11. This has often been cited as proof that TWIC and other post-9/11 maritime security measures have worked. Sounds good but the fact is that there were NO acts of maritime terrorism in the U.S. before 9/11 either. What a surprise.

“The few incidents that have occurred involving maritime targets have been far away,” Stephen Caldwell, director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues at the General Accountability Office in Washington, told Glass in an interview. “Domestically we haven’t seen anything. So the painful administration of a program like TWIC becomes a hot issue.”

As the International Longshore and Warehouse Union chapter in Seattle, which voted in June to repeal TWIC, said, the “ILWU believes that TWIC offers very little to no benefits and feel it would be wiser to spend this money on other port security issues.” What a great idea.

A reader wrote to me that my TWIC blog and August issue editorial were “right on.” He said that he had recently started the process to renew his captain’s license, and that it would be his last renewal due to his age. But he finally gave up after the Coast Guard kept giving him conflicting information on verifying his identity. At 68, he said, “I’m too old for this much aggravation.”

I think it is safe to say he isn’t the only one who has been aggravated by the TWIC program.

About the author

David Krapf

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.

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