A power outage at a federal government facility that processes transportation worker identification credentials may cause up to 410,000 of the program's smart cards to be replaced. The facility lacked IT contingency compliance with federal standards, and the government may have to pay up to $26 million in government and industry costs to make up for it.

The nation's ports were required to have individuals who have unescorted access to secure port areas register with the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program by April 15. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), more than 1.1 million people have been enrolled in the program. However, almost half of those workers might need to be issued new credentials after a power outage caused a hardware component failure in a TWIC enrollment and activation system. According to a Government Accountability Office report, the TSA lacked a disaster recovery or IT contingency plan for the system -- consequently the PINs associated with 410,000 of the program's smart cards are unable to be updated.

However, many of the nation's ports aren't using the PIN feature yet, which will be used in conjunction with the fingerprint template stored on the card. The TSA is testing the use of card readers that will conduct a one-on-one match of a person's biometric to the biometric stored on the TWIC card. Currently security guards at many ports visually inspect the cards upon entry to the terminals.

Go to Emergency Management's Web site to learn more about the TWIC program and how the issue affects the San Diego Unified Port District.


Elaine Pittman  |  Associate Editor

Elaine Pittman is the associate editor for Government Technology, Public CIO and Emergency Management. Before coming to Government Technology, she worked for The Coloradoan daily newspaper in Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached via email and @elainerpittman on Twitter.