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Secure Transactions News

TWIC program awarded to Lockheed Martin

Thursday 1 February 2007

The credentials will be based on dual technology contact and contactless cards. Lockheed Martin will establish enrollment centers within close proximity of port facilities, where applicants will provide certain biographic information and fingerprints to conduct a security threat assessment (conducted by the Transportation Security Administration, TSA) and produce the biometric credential. After the initial phase, a total of 1.1 million port worker enrollments are expected over the five-year contract.

Transportation workers will have to pay a US$ 137.25 (EUR 106.24) fee to obtain a TWIC, that will be valid five years. The fee includes the threat assessment. Enrollment will start on March 26, 2007 at select ports and then proceed to cover all ports over the next 15 months. The process is to be completed by September 25, 2008.

The TWIC program may then be expanded beyond the port community to other modes of transportation with a maximum of 6 million credentials to workers in rail yards, airports and other transportation hubs…

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for this projects. Other participants include: Daon, Datatrac, Deloitte Consulting, Maximus, and LexisNexis Special Services. The project includes the development of a call center and a web site for pre-enrollment, as well as the use of highly mobile enrollment stations.

Industry sources said Lockheed’s price is considered low compared to initial federal estimates, which were between US$ 100 million (EUR 77 million) and US$ 110 million (EUR 85 million) for the job. Soon after the announcement of the contract, some analysts already criticized the choices that have been made, saying the cards will easily be counterfeited, have a failure level between 25 and 50% and may need up to 9 minutes to be checked. The TWIC program has been under heavy criticism from its beginning, when it was discovered that readers did not resist salt water for instance. Last August, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General released its own report citing security weaknesses in the proposed TWIC implementation.  TSA, in a statement supported by the Smart Card Alliance, responded to some criticism stating the cards are compliant with NIST Personal Identity Verification standard for HSPD-12 cards (Homeland Security Presidential Directive), the expected failure rate is to be less than one percent, and the reading time will be less than one second instead of 9 minutes…

A major concern may come from the fact the TWIC fixed and handheld readers will not be on the field for a while, as a working group is due to deliver their specification by February 28. Even when readers are installed, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) does not plan to use the contact chip reading on a routine basis, not to slow down commerce too much. Contact chip reading will be reserved for spot verifications.