Wednesday, June 19, 2013

TWIC Reader Hearing Redux

Earlier this week the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security of the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing to look at “Threat, Risk and Vulnerability: The Future of the TWIC Program”. Since this was more than a month since we sat through a similar hearing held by the Government Operations Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, I had hoped to hear some new information about the TWIC Reader program, particularly from the GAO. Fortunately, I am used to being disappointed by Congressional hearings.

Looking at the written testimony presented by Mr. Lord (GAO) it looks like we entered a short time warp and were transported back to May 8th. The differences between the GAO report presented at that hearing and the one presented this week can’t be more than a couple of hundred words and most of those are the salutations to the committee chair and members.

The prepared testimony presented by Mr Sadler (TSA), on the other hand, was almost completely re-written, but it did not shed any new light on the issues at hand. Sadler (and presumably his bosses) still maintains that the TWIC Reader Pilot demonstrated that the “TWIC reader systems function properly when they are designed, installed, and operated in a manner consistent with the characteristics and business needs of the facility or vessel operation. People who watched the last hearing can probably still hear that refrain echoing through their minds.

We did have two new additions to this revival show; Rear Admiral Servidio (Coast Guard) and Mr. Woodring (Port of Houston Authority). The only information that the Admiral added was that the Coasties had extended the comment period by 30-days to give folks a chance to respond to the GAO charges that the TWIC Reader Pilot was inadequately designed and executed. As I have noted in other blog posts, that extension of the comment period has not brought much discussion of the TWIC Reader Pilot.

Mr. Woodring, a retired 27 year veteran of the Coast Guard and now working on the civilian side of the same street, brings an interesting perspective to the testimony. Having said that, he also ignores the TWIC Reader Pilot issue while pointing out the strong and weak points of the TWIC system (well worth reading for those not familiar with the program).

Oh well, I have come to expect the rehash or earlier information when multiple committees look at the same topic. It would have been more helpful if the two Subcommittees could have done this all at one time.

BTW: I don’t think I’m going to waste my time watching the replay video; I have never been a fan of re-runs or re-makes.

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