Biometrics, Drug Testing Spread…and Seep

A credential that includes a finger biometric and digital portrait will soon replace the time-consuming checking of port workers.

With no one surprised of its delay, the long awaited and debated Transportation Worker Identification Credential or TWIC from Homeland Security is ready to roll next month aimed primarily at port workers and will include a finger biometrics and digital portrait.

The TWIC program will enhance security at U.S. transportation facilities while boosting the efficiency of commercial activity, according to Kip Hawley, assistant secretary of the Transportation Security Administration. Up to 850,000 maritime ports transportation workers are expected to participate in the initial rollout of the program over 18 months through enrollment centers in 125 different ports located in 38 states.

The Transportation Workers Identification Credential program may force thousands of port workers and truck drivers to quit their jobs.

Finger and Photo

The credential will hold a digital photograph, name, TWIC expiration date, fingerprint templates of two fingers, finger pattern templates of two fingers, a personal identification number and a Federal Agency Smart Credential number. TWIC was developed in response to threats and vulnerabilities identified in the transportation system.

The TWIC debate now centers on how many workers, especially truck drivers, will not qualify for the credential and, if the numbers are high as some anticipate, how long transportation and port operations will be negatively impacted. There is a significant cost: up to $159 for the credential and an estimated $1.8 billion over about ten years of implementation.

Applications must prove they are legally employed in the United States. Obviously, those with terror-related crime histories will be refused the credential. There is an even greater list of crimes as well as mental illnesses that will block a credential though workers can seek a waiver through administrative judges. Hawley contends the refusals will not “be a huge issue.”

The technology behind TWIC is another story.

There will need to be massive data collection at hundreds of sites all feeding into a common database but with readers at numerous points of entry. Currently, and except for some prototype sites, most security, Homeland Security, TSA and border officers depend on paper-based documents and some database and detection systems.

TSA began the Prototype Phase of its Transportation Worker Identity Credential in November 2004. The credential was introduced at 26 different sites including ports in the East/West and Florida. Each site used a biometric technology to provide authorized transportation workers access to controlled areas.

Bill Bozeman

Access Grows into U.S. Government Security Projects

It’s taken almost half a decade, but security executives in the public sector are getting more quality face time with high-level security systems integrators.

A case in point: Condortech Services is both a new member and also a strategic partner of PSA Security Network to guide the group of integrators into the world of U.S. government security projects. “The timing is perfect,” said Bill Bozeman, CPP, CHS, president and CEO of PSA Security Network. Bozeman is also one of the 25 Most Influential Security Executives as named by Security Magazine in 2006.

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that grants are being distributed to ports, transit and intercity bus systems to strengthen the nation’s ability to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies.”

Condortech Services, Inc. (CTS) has agreed to offer fellow PSA members a suite of services that provide access to federal government projects, including those funded through The Department of Homeland Security. These projects include all levels of local, state and federal government.

CTS, on behalf of PSA member companies, will work to develop key relationships within the federal government to promote small business opportunities as part of very large government contracts. In the past, this business has been almost exclusively funneled through a handful of very large government contractors.

“The partnership between PSA and CTS will benefit both the federal government and taxpayers because contracts will also go to America’s Small Business Security Experts,” said Jorge Lozano, CEO and president of Condortech Services. “I am excited to be able to bring important initiatives and opportunities to PSA members.”

CTS recently completed its certification of HSPD-12, the presidential directive that ordered federal agencies to implement a mandatory common identity management system for their employees and contractors. This certification allows IT to provide end-to-end solutions that comply with FIPS 201 (Federal Information Processing Standard), the standard for federal authentication and identity management systems. FIPS 201 is the result of President George W. Bush’s desire to have interoperable federal identity management systems (IDMS) for access to federal facilities and systems.

PSA’s Bozeman is also a lead author for Today’s Systems Integrator, an electronic publication from both Security Magazine and SDM Magazine. It is free to qualified executives at systems integration firms.

SIDEBAR: Strike Two for Drug Testing

Just ten years ago, would anyone have figured that Major League Baseball players might set a legal precedent concerning drug testing?

But by a 2-1 vote, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled late last year that federal investigators can have access to the names and urine sample results of an estimated 100 players who took the 2003 random-sample steroid test. Media sources have suggested that up to eight of the players tested positive.

The on-going investigation centers on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative or BALCO. The Players’ Association is expected to appeal to the Court of Appeals and, if needed, to the Supreme Court. If overturned, the ruling could seep back into the corporate world where employers and security executives would be more hard-pressed to seek access into privacy-protected medical records.

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