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May 08, 2013

Report: TWIC Reader Pilot Results Unreliable

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on their assessment of the results of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) reader pilot program. The report, entitled "Transportation Worker Identification Credential: Card Reader Pilot Results Are Unreliable; Security Benefits Need to Be Assessed" (GAO-13-198), highlights three problem areas with the TWIC reader pilot and shows that the pilot results were incomplete, inaccurate, and unreliable for informing Congress and for developing a final rule for the use of biometric readers.

  • The pilot suffered from improper planning. In November 2009, GAO identified weakness in the pilot that would prevent DHS from accurately analyzing the results, but no performance standards or evaluation plan were ever developed to address this.
  • The TWIC reader pilot was to test the technology and operational impacts of deploying transportation security card readers at secure areas of the marine transportation system and to provide accurate and timely information necessary to evaluate the economic impact of a nationwide deployment of TWIC card readers. However, the data was collected and recorded in an incomplete and inconsistent manner during the TWIC reader pilot.
  • DHS's February 2012 report to Congress documented findings and lessons learned, but such findings were not always supported by the TWIC reader pilot data, or were based on incomplete or unreliable data, thus limiting the report's usefulness in informing Congress about the results of the TWIC reader pilot. Eleven years after initiation, DHS has not demonstrated how, if at all, TWIC will improve maritime security.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement on the report:

"I am greatly concerned that despite DHS investing $544 million and 11 years in the TWIC program, the program continues to suffer from fundamental problems that undermine its ability to provide the security benefits Congress intended. Meanwhile, port workers and industry stakeholders have invested their time, effort, and money into this troubled program, holding up their end of the bargain. Indeed, DHS has failed to implement GAO's prior recommendations that would have strengthened the TWIC program and ultimately enhanced maritime security. After years of oversight of the TWIC program, I concur with GAO's recommendation that an effectiveness assessment of the security benefits of TWICs and the use of biometric readers must occur before the American people are expected to invest additional money in this program. We cannot continue to throw good money after bad with this program."

Link to Report

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Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978