The American Association of Port Authorities said delays in setting technical specifications for Transportation Worker Identification Credential card scanners could force ports to shoulder extra costs.
The 2 million TWIC cards the Department of Homeland Security has issued since 2007 are usable only as a flash pass until the government approves technology for biometric readers. The Coast Guard is expected this year to issue a notice of proposed rule-making for the readers.
Joe Lawless, maritime security director at the Massachusetts Port Authority, told a House subcommittee that ports worry that further delays could cause ports to lose funding under previously awarded port security grants.
Lawless testified on behalf of the AAPA before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation subcommittee. He is chairman of the AAPA’s security committee.
As administrative rules are developed for TWIC card readers, “there are concerns about who will be covered, the cost, and whether readers will work efficiently,” Lawless said.
He said some ports have begun installing infrastructure for TWIC readers without knowing what the final requirement will be. Others, including Massport, are waiting for a final rule before installing readers, but worry that federal grants to cover the cost will soon expire.
“We encourage the Coast Guard to continue their proposed rule-making process so ports can take advantage of the port security grants provided for reader implementation,” Lawless testified. “Further delay will result in transferring the bulk of this federal mandate to the facilities rather than the shared process envisioned when the Port Security Grant program was established.”
The funds must be spent within a five-year period. The AAPA supports congressional proposals to extend the five-year period until after the final rule is issued.