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Government Update TWIC Challenges: Greater Than We Knew By Dennis L. Bryant, Senior Counsel, Holland & Knight, LLP As I am writing this, Halloween approaches. Vampire movies are play- ing on many television channels, carved pumpkins are on many porches, ghosts, goblins, and witches are on display in stores and windows. Just when I thought that it could not get any scarier, I read the recent 57-page report of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. It is not for the faint of heart. In an understated conclusion, the GAO recommends that, before implementing TWIC in the maritime sector, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) develop and test solutions to problems identified during testing to ensure that key components of the program work effectively and that the agency also strengthen contract planning and oversight practices before awarding the TWIC implementation contract. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reviewed a draft of the GAO report and concurred with the recommendations. It is the numerous details of the report that cause one's blood to go cold. Let's start by putting the major blame where it belongs. Although the GAO report glosses over this point, Congress has failed, throughout the life of this program, to provide the funding necessary to accomplish the mission. Through fiscal year 2006, only $89.7 million has been provided (and $10 million of that came by reprogramming from other DHS accounts). While Congress has unceasingly demanded that the TWIC program be accelerated, it has failed to put its money where its mouth is. It is thus little wonder that things have not gone smoothly, to say the least! The TSA conducted prototype tests at 28 facilities. That testing has been continually cited by the TSA as justification for moving ahead with full implementation. During the comment period on the proposed rulemaking, various stakeholders raised questions about how the testing went. These questions were uniformly rebuffed by the TSA. The GAO report reveals for the first time just how badly the prototype testing proceeded. Due to a lack of government personnel, TSA allowed the contractor hired to conduct the prototype testing to also evaluate the testing! After enlisting the voluntary support of facilities to host the prototype testing, the TSA did not inform the facilities of the results. The rationale of TSA was that the results contained sensitive security information. Hold it right there. If these facilities could be trusted to test the system and are also expected to eventually implement it, how can they not be trusted with information on how the tests went? How can those facilities Maritime Reporter & Engineering News 26