Industry Skeptical of State Readiness for Fingerprint IDs

Industry Skeptical of State Readiness for Fingerprint IDs

Industry reacts to TSA HazMat fingerprint ID rule

The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) interim final rule (IFR) to begin fingerprint checks for transfer and renewal applicants for a HazMat CDL endorsement by May 31, 2005 has industry executives concerned that there may not be adequate infrastructure to support an influx of background checks. The compliance date for new entrants, however, will remain January 31, 2005.

See TSA Revises HazMat CDL Threat Assessment Standards.

“We do not think that the entire program is ready for prime time,” Cliff Harvison, president of National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) told Fleet Owner, noting that the recent outline of the threat assessment program published in the Federal Register [RIN 1652-AA17] on November 24 leaves unanswered questions on how TSA will bring the states up to speed.

In the IFR, the agency noted that the need for additional time and human resources to support the program was the chief concern among state and industry representatives. “The states notified TSA that state funding, human resources, and technology are in short supply,” stated TSA. “Many of the states needed additional state legislative authority to conduct the program and to collect fees to pay for the States' costs in implementing the program.”

This raised industry concerns that launching the program by May 31 would be premature for the states and therefore disruptive for the industry. “By TSA’s estimate, about 400,000 drivers a year for the next three years are going to go through these background checks,” said Harvison. “These drivers need this system to make their living, so this system has to work from day one. If the system is broken, there’s going to be a lot of people without a paycheck.”

“To the fullest extent possible, TSA has issued extensions of time for the start date of the fingerprint-based criminal history records check to accommodate these requests and to provide TSA time to develop the fee proposed rule, after TSA obtained legislative authority to collect user fees to support the security threat assessment program,” stated TSA.

TSA had estimated the total fees to be leveraged on applicants of the security threat assessment to be between $83 to $103 in a notice for proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register [RIN 1652-AA33] on November 10.

To address the concern that all states may not be ready to collect and transfer fingerprints into a centralized database, TSA will allow the states to enable approved agencies to collect applications and fingerprints. If a state isn’t ready to collect and transmit fingerprints by May 31, the agency also said it will be able to staff data entry until no later than July 2005.

“To our understanding, so far most of the states will not be ready, which means TSA would have to have an agency or contractor in place,” said Harvison. “We don’t have any information on these agencies and the document doesn’t tell us.”

NTTC will submit a response to the IFR to request another extension to the May 31 deadline, Harvison said.

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