Two recent developments affect everyone’s favorite (if only to hate) US maritime transportation security feature, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Program. Of particular interest to those who will need to renew their TWICs later this year and beyond, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has selected a new contractor to be in charge of issuing TWICs. Meanwhile, people who need to replace a lost or stolen TWIC already face a potential restriction on their ability to obtain a replacement at the reduced replacement price.
New TWIC Enrollment Contractor
According to a company press release dated April 10th, Morpho Trust USA, Inc. has been selected by TSA as the prime contractor for the TSA’s new Universal Enrollment Service (UES). In addition to the TWIC Program, which will be the first TSA credentialing effort to migrate to the new system (and contractor), the Hazardous Material Endorsement Threat Assessment Program (HTAP) and other TSA enrollment/registration programs will transition to USE as their individual contracts expire â€”early 2013 in the case of HTAP. The contract has a base year and four option years. The total contract value for five years is estimated at $248 million.
Morpho Trust, which used to be L-1 Identity Solutions until it was acquired and reorganized by the French conglomerate Safran, has a strong background in issuing IDs (its website claims more than two billion government IDs issued). It currently operates over 1,200 ID service centers across the country and issues driver licenses for 41 states. The press release claims the company has “enrolled more than two million individuals to date for the TWIC and HTAP programs.” This either represents a heck of a lot of HME issuances, or else the company subcontracted a chunk of Lockheed Martin’s TWIC enrollment business. This could mean that company has a leg up on implementing the TWIC enrollment and issuance process (which is significantly more rigorous than getting a driver license, even in the age of REAL ID) as we move into the first five year renewals of TWICs. But it could also mean that service will be about the same in a lot of places, if the company had much of a role under the Lockheed Martin contract.
It’s not clear when Morpho Trust’s contract will start, but a TSA spokesman had previously said that there would be at least a six-month handover period, during which the new contractor would shadow Lockheed Martin’s operations. He also indicated that the number of enrollment centers would increase from the 137 currently operated by Lockheed Martin to at least 200. Depending on where the new ones are located, this could reduce the burden on people in remote areas far from the existing centers.
Cost of Replacing a Lost or Stolen TWIC
On April 2th my good friend Laurie Thomas started a series of posts on her blog, Maritime Security/MTSA News, about a possible change in the charge for a replacement for a lost or stolen TWIC if the loss wasn’t reported within 24 hours. Her first post reported that people in the New Orleans area who waited for more than 24 hours to report lost/stolen/inoperable TWICs were being charged the full $129.75 enrollment fee, not the $60.00 “Card Replacement Fee” promulgated in 49 CFR 1572.501(d) and listed on the TSA and TWIC websites. Her second post recounted her conversation with the TWIC Help Desk, which informed her that “the fee was $60 if the person reported within 24 hours, $129.75 if the person reported after 24 hours” and that “TSA is in the process of upgrading its website to reflect this change.” Her final post, on April 19th, announced that “the process and fee for a card that has been lost/stolen and is not paid for within 24 hours of the time of the report is made” was now on the TWIC FAQ portion of the TSA website. She indicated that the following language (at the end of the answer to “How can I request a replacement card”), said to have been originally posted in February 2012, had recently been bolded and underlined:
Note: An individual requesting a replacement card must request the replacement during the initial call to report the card lost or stolen OR must request the replacement card in-person at any enrollment center the same day. An individual who requests a replacement card at any time after the initial report of a lost/stolen card must repeat the enrollment process and pay $129.75 for the new card.
So it’s not that you have to report the loss of your TWIC within 24 hours. Rather, you have to request and pay for your replacement card at the time, or on the same day, you make the report. Laurie points out a scenario in which this produces an unjust result. She goes on to, among other things, express concern about the “accuracy of details on the TSA TWIC website,” having previously noted that there are “still several places” that state that the replacement fee is $60. Actually, there are two websitesâ€”the TWIC portion of TSA’s website, which has a FAQ where the quoted language appears and the TWIC information website “Operated by Lockheed Martin Corporation for the Transportation Security Administration.” The FAQ section of the latter answers the question “What happens if my TWIC card is lost, stolen or damaged?” with the same language that is in the TSA TWIC FAQ answer MINUS the Note quoted above. Even though they did not get the new UES contract, the Lockheed Martin folks ought to keep the site they operate accurate and up to date through the last day of their existing contract and the TSA contract administration shop should make sure they do.
But I have concerns that go beyond website accuracyâ€”the wording of the policy, the merits of the policy, implementation of the policy, and communication of the policy to the stakeholders. First, is the policy actually what Laurie describes it is in her third post (with input from the fine folks at TSA)? The first sentence appears to say you can call in your report and then show up at an enrollment center that day to request a replacement TWIC. But the second sentence says requesting a replacement card “at any time after the initial report” results in the higher price. So maybe the first sentence means you can either phone in your report and request your replacement card then or else make your report and request the replacement at an enrollment center. And how does 24 hours factor in? If you both report and request by phone, you don’t need any additional time to request; if you phone in the report and request in person, there won’t be 24 hours left in the same day.
Second, as to the merits of the policy, why was it instituted (back in February)? What’s so important that you have to request and pay for your replacement TWIC less than 24 hours after you report its loss? To my mind 72 hours would be much more reasonable from the card holder’s perspective. I can see that it’s important to TSA get a report of theft of a card quickly, but what’s so important about getting paid for it? If anything, TSA’s policy is likely to delay reporting of lost and stolen cards. If I were someone who didn’t have to use my TWIC every day (and I am) and I were relieved of my wallet containing my TWIC and much of my ready cash during a mugging, I can easily see the personal benefits of delaying the report of the theft of my TWIC until after my next payday. And suppose I were specifically targeted because I was a person who did not have to display my TWIC every day? Does TSA really want lost TWIC reports to be delayed? The regulations (49 CFR 1572.19(f)) require TWIC holders to notify TSA “immediately” if their TWIC is “damaged” or they “lose possession” of it. From this perspective (and abstracting from issues involved in determining the actual date of loss or damage), the policy reported in Laurie’s first two posts requiring a report within 24 hours of loss to qualify for the lower replacement cost would make more sense than the actual policy detailed in her third post.
Third, if the policy is actually to require you to request and pay for your replacement TWIC the same day as you report its loss, why did the enrollment centers in New Orleans charge people the full enrollment fee if their reports of loss were “late?” And why did the TWIC Help Desk initially tell Laurie that the $60 replacement fee only applied if a lost TWIC was reported within 24 hours of the loss? It is incumbent on TSA to ensure that its policy is accurately communicated to the people applying it and to ensure that those people are implementing it correctly. It is incumbent on Lockheed Martin to ensure that its people and its contractors not slack off as the end of the contract approaches.
I’m a lot calmer about TSA security measures at airports than many people, because I understand the premise for what they are trying to do (which is not to say I think many of their efforts are all that effective). But even I balk at their “communications” style. “Proper procedures were followed” is not an adequate answer to complaints about aggressive searches of grandmothers or children. They ought to say something along the lines of “We realize that grannies and children don’t look like most people’s idea of a terrorist, but here is a picture of Fatima Omar Mahmud al-Najar, a 64-year-old grandmother who blew herself up trying to kill Israelis, and here’s a picture of a Palestinian child stopped at a check point with14 pounds of explosives. And it’s not just Middle East people. support to terrorists trying to kill people in Europe. The bottom line is that if we make exceptions for certain categories of people, terrorists will attempt to recruit people in those categories in order to get around our security measures.” And TSA should fess up when the mess up.
Getting back to TSA’s communication on TWIC matters, the TWIC section of the website offers email subscriptions to “updated TWIC News” (with an exclamation point). I subscribed a long time ago and have verified that I am carried on the books as subscribed, but I never gotten an email. But then, the replacement cost policy is not mentioned in the “Latest News!” section of the TWIC portion of the TSA website, although that section highlights policy changes and other news going back to one effective in October last year. So obviously, no one thought of something as simple as a press release (that would have gotten picked up by the maritime and trucking press) either. “Promulgating” a new policy on replacement TWIC costs that could result in charging people caught unawares an extra $72.50 (at the time the website was said to have been changed originally) by inserting some words in an FAQ answer, and then bolding them about two months later, just doesn’t cut it. This doesn’t even try to alert people to the policy before they are in a situation where it would apply to them. Compare this to TSA’s treatment of a $2.75 reduction in the cost of a regular TWIC enrollment. That was deemed important enough to warrant placement in the “Latest News.” With apologies to Cicero, o tempora o mores!
NOTE: This post may be copied, distributed, and displayed and derivative works may be based on it, provided it is attributed to Maritime Transportation Security News and Views by John C. W. Bennett, http://mpsint.com.