TSA launches biometric credential prototype ...

The Homeland Security Department's Transportation Security Administration today began prototype testing of its biometric identity card for workers in maritime, rail, aviation and truck commerce.

Today's launch of the prototype version of the Transportation Worker Identity Credential is the third phase of the program. Workers at the Port of Long Beach Container Terminal started the prototype phase by enrolling for the credentials. Soon, workers at the Philadelphia Maritime Exchange in Pennsylvania and the ports of Pensacola and Canaveral, Fla., will join the program.

In the following weeks, TSA and its lead contractor for the biometric credential, BearingPoint Inc. of McLean, Va., plan to roll out the identity cards to as many as 200,000 transportation workers.

The prototype phase of the program eventually will cover 34 transportation hubs in six states and last seven months, TSA said. Previous phases of the program covered program planning as well as TWIC technology and business process development.

The TWIC cards contain fingerprint and other biometric data that link workers to their identities and to information gathered in voluntary background checks. The new credentials will eliminate the need for workers to carry different ID cards for various transportation centers.

'TWIC is a significant enhancement that will prevent terrorists and other unauthorized persons from gaining access to sensitive areas of the nation's transportation system,' said undersecretary for border and transportation security Asa Hutchinson in an announcement.

DHS executives now are working to synchronize the department's grab bag of biometric projects, which number more than 60 stovepiped or loosely coordinated activities see GCN coverage.

TSA awarded BearingPoint a $12 million contract to run the prototype phase in August.


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