The Coast Guard will unveil a proposal for requirements for electronic Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card readers in February, according to a regulatory update published as part of an overview of upcoming federal actions, Fierce Homeland Security reports.

Although the TSA has since 2007 required port and ship workers to carry TWIC cards, the federal rule electronic card readers has been slow in coming: The cards have mainly been used as expensive flash passes, the article says. A Coast Guard official estimated in March 2012 that full implementation of card readers will require two years after finalization of the regulation regarding their use.

The regulatory update says that the Coast Guard is still developing cost impact estimates of an electronic reader regulation, and notes that the main cost drivers are the acquisition and installation of TWIC readers, plus any ongoing maintenance, the article reports.

According to Fierce Homeland Security, “A 2009 advance notice of proposed rulemaking on TWIC readers said implementation would take a risk-based approach based on classification of vessels and ports into one of three risk classifications that take into account the consequences of a transportation security incident.

“The TWIC program is a requirement under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. A November 2012 report from Republican members of the House Homeland Security and Oversight and Government Reform committees said TWIC has already cost $500 million and could total $3.2 billion over a decade. The program ‘has been crippled by latent programmatic weaknesses,’ a committee report said.”