Skip to main content

Transportation Credential, a Dangerous & Expensive Security Experiment?

Taken From the Maritime Executive Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a scathing report today that exposes serious security weaknesses and years-long delays in a program to fully implement a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC).  TWIC is intended to protect the nation’s port and maritime transportation systems. U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), the Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, testified at a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing today during which the GAO report was released.  Chairman Mica, one of the requestors of today’s GAO report, said, “TWIC is turning into a dangerous and expensive experiment in security.” The TWIC for maritime industry workers was mandated in the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA).  After many delays, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) finally began issuing TWICs in 2007, but the agency still has not approved a technology to read the biometrically enabled credentials.

“Nearly half-a-billion dollars has been spent since TSA was directed to issue biometric security cards to transportation workers,” said Mica, who was chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee in 2001 when the 9/11 terrorists attacks occurred, and is one of the authors of the legislation that created the TSA.  “Yet today, ten years later and with no approved biometric reader, TWICs are at best no more useful than library cards,” Mica said. According to the released report, GAO was able to obtain authentic TWICs using fraudulent identification documentation and gain access to ports using counterfeit TWICs.  GAO also found that, among other things, TSA is unable to confirm that TWIC holders maintain their eligibility throughout the life of their TWIC. Mica continued, “Even more troubling, GAO found that in some cases a TWIC can be fraudulently obtained, becoming a permanent biometric key that unlocks our nation’s ports and facilities for any individual with the intent and desire to do us harm.”

According to TSA, $420 million in funding has been provided for the TWIC Program, 1.86 million people have enrolled, and 1.72 million cards have been activated.  In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated that the combined cost to the federal government and the private sector may reach $3.2 billion over a ten-year period – not taking into account the full cost of implementing and operating readers.
Despite these significant costs, GAO reports that the TWIC program was poorly tested and evaluated before deployment began.  According to the GAO, “DHS has not assessed the effectiveness of TWIC at enhancing security or reducing risk for MTSA-regulated facilities and vessels.  Further, DHS has not demonstrated that TWIC, as currently implemented and planned with card readers, is more effective than prior approaches used to limit access to ports and facilities, such as using facility-specific identity credentials with business cases.” In fact, the only port that GAO investigators were not able to gain access to using fraudulent means was the port that still required port-specific identification for admittance to secure areas.
“The root of this problem is evidenced in many other TSA programs as well,” Mica said.  “This agency still does not conduct risk assessments and cost-benefit analyses of its security programs.”

Last year, GAO found that TSA’s Screening People by Observation Techniques Program (SPOT) for aviation security will require $1.2 billion over the next five years, but TSA has yet to validate the underlying methodology of the program or to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. GAO also reported in 2010 that TSA has not conducted comprehensive risk assessments across the surface transportation sector.  This lack of analysis results in ill-informed resource allocations and calls into question whether the highest risk targets are being secured. “TSA is not the only agency that has struggled to develop a biometric credential for transportation workers,” Mica said.  “The Federal Aviation Administration has yet to produce a pilot’s license that includes biometric identifiers, or even photos of the pilots holding the licenses.  The only pilots currently pictured on FAA licenses are Wilbur and Orville Wright.” Mica stated that biometric capabilities, properly implemented, are essential for improved transportation security.  However, biometrically enabled credentials will be expensive failures without effective program management.
http://transportation.house.gov/

Remember that Florida is one of the only states where the individual ports still require local background checks. There has been a push to remove these local requirements, which cost businesses in Florida millions. Thus, there is a question behind Rep. Mica's criticism of TWIC. If you want to comment on this, please write me at  http://www.linkedin.com/in/michelleoterovaldes.

Comments

  1. Just as we must consider major shipping concerns such as, money, safety and security, so we must consider all technologies. It is the integrated approach that offers the most benefits, above and beyond the simple addition of features and facilities. Each technology can combine with each of the others to give new capabilities and new features. The question is not one of what is possible, but simply one of how much do you need.

    Allen Craig
    Freight Broker Motivation

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Maritime Law--U.S. Crewmember Required to Arbitrate Claims Applying Norwegian Law

In Alberts v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., No. 15-14775 (11th Cir. Aug. 23, 2016), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a U.S. citizen, working aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is required to arbitrate his claims against Royal Caribbean.
Plaintiff, a United States citizen, worked as the lead trumpeter on a passenger Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The ship is a Bahamian flagged vessel with a home port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Royal Caribbean, the operator of the vessel, is a Liberian corporation with its principal place of business in Florida. After plaintiff became ill while working for Royal Caribbean, he filed suit alleging unseaworthiness, negligence, negligence under the Jones Act, maintenance and cure, and seaman’s wages and penalties. Royal Caribbean moved to compel arbitration, and the district court granted the motion. This appeal presented an issue of first impression: Whether a seaman’s work in international waters on a cruise ship that calls o…

Maritime Law--Tour Boat Captain Implicated in Tragedy Off Nicaragua

As reported in the Daily Business Review on January 25, 2016, Nicaragua's police, army and navy will investigate the captain of a tourist boat and his assistant for the deaths of 13 Costa Rican passengers killed on January 23rd when the vessel capsized in bad weather. The Reina del Caribe, Spanish for "Caribbean Queen," was carrying 33 people when it went down Saturday amid rain and strong winds as it ferried between the Corn Islands, a popular tourist destination, off Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. The Daily Business Review article can be accessed here=> Daily Business Review article.

The government clarified on the 24th that the boat was carrying 25 Costa Ricans, two Americans, two British citizens, a Brazilian and three Nicaraguans. Previous reports had said there were 32 people on board, including four Americans. All the dead were Costa Ricans.

Nicaragua's naval commander for the southern Caribbean region said the boat's captain was detained because the …

Maritime Law--Lawsuits Filed Over RCCL's "Storm Cruise"

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ("RCCL") faces lawsuits by passengers accusing the company of negligently endangering their lives by letting Anthem of the Seas sail into a February 7, 2016 storm.  One class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami specifically states that RCCL should be required to pay punitive damages to passengers on its ship for "knowingly sailing directly into" a strong winter storm with 120-mph winds. It is also alleged that people aboard the ship were "subjected to hours of sheer terror as the gigantic cruise ship was battered by hurricane-force winds and more than 30-foot waves."

The vessel reportedly encountered 100 mph winds and 30-foot waves, and RCCL said the storm was more severe than expected. RCCL later turned the ship around, and it returned to New Jersey on February 10. Anthem of the Seas’ port azipod reportedly burnt through “all four clutches” during the storm. RCCL reported four minor injuries among more than 6,000 p…