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TSA readies port trucker screening

May 22, 2006
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) spelling out its plan to require all commercial truck drivers delivering or retrieving goods at ports to have a special ID card

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) spelling out its plan to require all commercial truck drivers delivering or retrieving goods at ports to have a special ID card.

The Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC) card would incorporate biometric data, criminal background checks and threat assessment procedures. Each driver applying for a TWIC would pay a fee ranging from $95 to $145. However a lower fee would be set for persons vetted by TSA for their hazardous materials endorsement (HME) and those holding Free and Secure Trade (FAST) cards.

The TWIC NPRM can be read at Federal Register.

The breakdown for the proposed fee is:

  1. Information collection and credential issuance fee (between $45 and $65) will cover the collection of fingerprints and biographic information at a TSA-approved facility.
  2. Threat assessment/credential production fee (between $50 and $62) will cover a procedure in which TSA checks the applicant’s information against multiple databases and information sources. Persons who have been vetted under the HME or FAST programs would be assessed $50.
  3. FBI fee ($22) will cover the cost for the Bureau to determine whether the fingerprints are associated with any criminal history.

The vetting procedure and fee collection is similar to that of the HME program, TSA spokesperson Ann Davis told FleetOwner. No differences between the HME vetting procedure and TWIC have been determined. TSA has not announced plans to merge the HME and the TWIC programs at this time.

Although the NPRM TSA issued today applies to port truckers, the agency is considering rolling out this program to all modes of transportation— including rail, mass transit, pipeline and aviation.

“Eventually the objective of the TWIC is to ensure that all transportation workers who require access to a secure area of any transportation mode will undergo that procedure,” Davis said. “It will serve as a common credential.”

The HME program was developed and implemented to fulfill a section of the USA Patriot Act, which was enacted October 2001, to limit the issuance of hazmat licenses. The TWIC program was developed to fulfill the Maritime Transportation Security Act, which became law in November 2002.

Tom Weakley, director of operations for the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Assn. Foundation, told FleetOwner that the TWIC program appears to be a redundant screening process for those who have completed HME and FAST screenings. In addition, he is concerned that there will not be enough fingerprint collection facilities—which he said was a big problem during the rollout of HME.

“It looks like [TSA has] learned a few things from its hazmat endorsement program,” Weakley said. “The proof is how accessible these places will be. Are these fingerprint locations and offices convenient so that people could go in and get their endorsements? I’m very skeptical on how efficiently it will be run. TSA does not have the manpower to handle this themselves so they hire third parties [to collect fingerprints].”

The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) was contacted but was unavailable for comment at press time.

However, on May 16, ATA issued the following statement:

“TSA…has implemented different background check processes for truckers obtaining hazmat endorsements and going to secure airport areas and now is implementing [TWIC] for truckers transporting cargo in and out of seaports. ATA believes the TWIC should streamline the screening process while trimming superfluous costs. The TWIC should consolidate the current multitude of federally mandated background checks into one check that grants access to areas or goods in the transportation supply chain and prevents individual states from adding additional security checks or credentials.”

Comments to TSA must be received by July 6, and may be sent electronically via http://dms.dot.gov.

To view the NPRM, go to http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20061800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2006/06-4508.htm.

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