GAO report casts huge doubts on TWIC program

MAY 9, 2013 — A GAO report to Congressional committees finds major problems with the the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC program), which requires maritime workers to complete background checks and obtain biometric identification cards to gain unescorted access to secure areas of Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA)-regulated entities.

A GAO review of a pilot test on the program conducted by TSA found that the test’s results were incomplete, inaccurate, and unreliable for informing Congress and for developing a regulation (rule) about the biometric TWIC card readers used in the program. Challenges related to pilot planning, data collection, and reporting affected the completeness, accuracy, and reliability of the results. These issues call into question the program’s premise and effectiveness in enhancing security.

GAO says that the findings in a DHS report to Congress on the test were not always supported by the pilot data, or were based on incomplete or unreliable data, thus limiting the report’s usefulness in informing Congress about the results of the TWIC reader pilot.

GAO says that DHS’s assumption that the lack of a common credential could leave facilities open to a security breach with falsified credentials has not been validated. Eleven years after initiation, DHS has not demonstrated how, if at all, TWIC will improve maritime security.

Read the GAO report HERE