A federal transportation worker-vetting process similar to the fingerprint-based hazmat driver background check is being rolled out to port workers. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff yesterday announced DHS will begin conducting name-based background checks on nearly 400,000 port workers in the U.S.
This is an initial step to the eventual rollout of a nationwide biometric-based Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). According to DHS, TWIC will initially be required for longshoremen and maritime employees of facility owners and operators.
Ultimately, all individuals will require a TWIC for unescorted access to secure areas. TWIC is the result of a provision in the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 requiring DHS to develop a program that ensures persons who have unescorted access to sensitive port areas don’t pose a security threat.
“It is fundamental that individuals who pose a security threat do not gain access to our nation’s ports,” said Secretary Chertoff. “The name-based checks will provide an immediate security boost while we simultaneously complete the work to implement a secure national transportation worker credential.”
The names will be vetted against terrorist watch lists and eventually the TWIC program will include full criminal record checks.
A notice of proposed rulemaking will follow, DHS said.