John C.W. Bennett has an interesting post over on his Maritime Transportation Security News and Views blog that discusses, in part, the portion of the recent National Maritime Security Advisory Committee (NMSAC) that deals with the Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC). The discussion is lengthy but well worth reading.
TWIC Cards will Die on Expiration
There were two interesting exchanges noted in Bennett’s post one of which will be of specific interest to the chemical facility security community. The more general note first; Bennett notes (without quotes so I’m not sure where the data comes from) that:
“With regard to proposals to extend the expiration dates on TWICs until readers are in place, the chips on TWICs expire when the card’s expiration date is reached. They will no longer work with a TWIC reader and the biometric data can no longer be accessed.”
This is something that I had not heard before. It does make a great deal of sense to design the cards this way. Of course since only a few facilities are currently using TWIC readers at this point I’m not sure how much of an issue this will be for preventing Congressional pressure to extend the current TWIC expiration.
TWIC and CFATS
Bennet reports an interesting exchange between the NMSAC chair and John Schwartz from the TSA about the potential general use of TWICS.
“The NMSAC Chair noted that the original legislation had called for one security card for all transportation modes and asked why airport pass offices couldn’t be used as TWIC enrollment centers, since they all have collection and transmission capabilities. Mr. Schwartz [TSA] answered that their systems weren’t set up the same way. The airports bounce information off of TSA, but they make their own access/pass issuance determinations.”
This is one of the potential problems with using the TWIC as the sole method of vetting employees. Since the TWIC background check also includes criminal checks and has its specific list of disqualifying criminal offenses, facility managers would be giving up their right to make a decision as to how those particular offenses weigh in personnel issues. Presumably, facilities that would use a TWIC as their personnel surety program would forgo other background checks as duplicative and miss criminal behavior that would be of concern to their organizations but are not considered as part of the TWIC checks.
The current CFATS rules only require the use of a criminal background check but leave the decision as to which offenses under what circumstances would prohibit an employee unaccompanied access to a restricted area up to facility management. The use of the TWIC as the personnel surety program removes that discretion from the facility management.