Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarrod Bohler (MST3) and Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Biss (MST3) talk with a truck driver about his transportation worker identification credential as he attempts to enter the port of Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 5, 2008. (Coast Guard photo/PA2 Bobby Nash)

Coast Guard Needs to Improve TWIC Oversight for Transportation Security, OIG Finds

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General found that the Coast Guard needs to improve its oversight of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program to reduce the risk of transportation security incidents.

DHS “did not complete an assessment of the security value of the TWIC program as required by Public Law 114−278, Section 1(b)” because DHS “experienced challenges identifying an office responsible for the effort,” said the report.

“As a result, the Coast Guard does not have a full understanding of the extent to which the TWIC program addresses security risks in the maritime environment. This will continue to impact the Coast Guard’s ability to properly develop and enforce regulations governing the TWIC program,” OIG continued. “For example, the Coast Guard did not clearly define the applicability of facilities that have certain dangerous cargo in bulk when developing a final rule to implement the use of TWIC readers at high-risk maritime facilities. Without oversight and policy improvements in the TWIC program, high-risk facilities may continue to operate without enhanced security measures, putting these facilities at an increased security risk.”

OIG concluded that the Coast Guard “needs to improve its oversight of the TWIC program to reduce the risk of transportation security incidents.”

“Due to technical problems and lack of awareness of procedures, the Coast Guard did not make full use of the TWIC card’s biometric features as intended by Congress to ensure only eligible individuals have unescorted access to secure areas of regulated facilities,” states the report. “During inspections at regulated facilities from fiscal years 2016 through 2017, the Coast Guard only used electronic readers to verify, on average, about 1 in every 15 TWIC cards against the Transportation Security Administration’s canceled card list. This occurred because the majority of the TWIC readers in the field have reached the end of their service life. Furthermore, the Coast Guard’s guidance governing oversight of the TWIC program is fragmented, which led to confusion and inconsistent inspection procedures. This resulted in fewer regulatory confiscations of TWIC cards.”

OIG recommended that the DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology complete the TWIC program assessment and that the Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy “take action to more clearly define the applicable facilities that have certain dangerous cargo in bulk and which must implement the use of electronic TWIC readers as an access control measure.”

“We recommend the Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy improve the Coast Guard’s use of electronic TWIC card readers during annual inspections at regulated facilities by procuring new TWIC card readers,” the report added. “We recommend the Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy revise and strengthen the Coast Guard TWIC Verification and Enforcement Guide.”

DHS concurred with all four recommendations and is taking corrective action.

Read the full report

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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