TWIC Office Problem To Get Permanent Fix
Wednesday, August 22 2012
It used to be that if you wanted to work in a secure area of a dock facility, you had to fly to Anchorage, apply for a Transportation Workers Identification Credential – or TWIC – card, wait about a month and a half, and then go back to the Anchorage all over again to pick it up and activate it. That meant that a $130 ID ended up costing a lot more.
“The TWIC card for us costs $3,000 because of the two trips,” says Mayor Shirley Marquardt.
No more. Marquardt announced at Tuesday’s city council meeting that the Transportation Security Administration intends to require a contractor to open a permanent TWIC office in Unalaska starting on January 1.
The city has been lobbying for a local TWIC office since 2008, when the TSA first required the cards of dockworkers and contracted with Lockheed Martin to set up TWIC offices across the country. At the time, Lockheed Martin chose not to establish a center in the Port of Dutch Harbor.
Over the past few years, the city and TSA have tried a few makeshift solutions to make the credentialing process easier for workers. At first, the TWIC office in Anchorage would send out a remote registration unit to Unalaska a couple of times a year. They would be swamped with hundreds of applicants and still wouldn’t manage to cover everyone who needed one because of the irregular schedule. Finally, in 2011, the city worked out an arrangement where they would operate a local office for one half day every week using Lockheed Martin equipment and their own staff.
Librarian Dan Masoni runs that office along with Assistant Manager John Fulton. He says that in the past year and a half they’ve been operating it, they’ve been busy and have more than demonstrated that a need for a permanent office exists.
“Tuesday of last week we did 14 customer contacts, either for enrollments or activations of cards,” says Masoni. “Anchorage only did ten.”
Masoni adds that they’ve made over 600 customer contacts since they opened the facility last March, which adds up to well over half a million dollars saved in transportation costs.
Last week, TWIC program manager John Schwartz made a visit to Unalaska on behalf of the TSA. He visited the city-run TWIC office and talked to local businesses about the importance of establishing a permanent location. Before leaving, Schwartz told city officials that the TSA intends to require Lockheed Martin to open a TWIC office on the island using their own staff. That will leave city employees like Masoni with more time to focus on their other job responsibilities.
“Right now, we enjoy doing it. But you know what? I was hired to run a library and John was hired to be the assistant city manager,” says Masoni. “I’m devoting roughly 20 percent of my time to TWIC and John is devoting probably 10 to 15 percent of his.”
Plans for the new office are expected to be hammered out during the city’s lobbying trip to Washington, DC, in September.