TSA advances transportation worker secure ID program

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National Press Release
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

WASHINGTON - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to begin the Prototype Phase of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The Prototype Phase is the third step in TSA's development of a uniform identification credential for all transportation workers who require unescorted access to secure areas at seaports, airports, rail, pipeline, trucking and mass transit facilities

The Prototype Phase will be conducted in Philadelphia, Pa. and Wilmington, Del.; the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif.; and the 14 major port facilities in the state of Florida. TSA anticipates that up to 200,000 workers may participate in the prototype.

"The TWIC card is a key piece in TSA's efforts to secure all modes of the nation's transportation network," said Rear Adm. David M. Stone, TSA's Acting Administrator. "This technology will not only improve security by keeping known terrorists away from vulnerable areas, but it also enhances the flow of commerce and protects individual privacy."

The RFP is open for thirty days and will be competed between companies selected through the General Services Administration (GSA) Smart Access Common ID Card contract. This contract was fully and openly competed by GSA and federal agencies requesting smart card technologies are encouraged to solicit bids through these approved vendors. The prototype will examine a range of identity management processes, including the use of smart card technology with biometrics to positively link an individual to his or her credential for unescorted access to secure areas of the transportation system.

The TWIC card will strengthen security at key transportation facilities in a number of ways:

  • A threat assessment ensures known terrorists are not issued TWIC cards and are not able to gain access to secure areas
  • Numerous advanced credentialing technologies safeguard against the use of fraudulent credentials
  • Communications technologies tied to the program will allow TSA to interface with other federal, state and local agencies; these enhancements will allow TSA to send out targeted "threat alerts" to key facilities and shift resources based on intelligence data or changes in the threat level

One of the program's goals is to boost commerce by increasing the speed and efficiency of identity verification at transportation facilities. It also saves truck drivers, dockworkers and others who require access to multiple facilities the time and expense of obtaining numerous redundant credentials.

An additional benefit of one common credential is the ability to better protect individual privacy. TSA will safeguard workers' personal data by collecting the minimum amount of required information and shielding those records in a secure system. This is a vast improvement over a system in which individual workers provide personal information to dozens of entities in order to gain access to each facility.

TSA began the TWIC program in the spring of 2002. Phase I, the Planning Phase, of the project was completed in spring of 2003 and Phase II, the Technology Evaluation Phase, closed in October of that year. In Phase II, six card technologies were analyzed by a third party to test their efficiency, effectiveness and cost. After an in-depth review, the Integrated Circuit Chip (ICC) Smart Card was selected as the most appropriate for the TWIC card. Other technologies, including a two-dimensional barcode and optical stripe will also be included in the Prototype Phase to ensure compatibility with various legacy systems at transportation facilities.

Phase III will last approximately seven months. TSA will then perform a further review and prepare for Phase IV, the nationwide rollout of the TWIC card.

TSA provides more in-depth information about TWIC on its website.

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