Delays plague TWIC card program
Eight out of 12 machines used to produce TWIC (Transportation Worker Identity Credential) cards have been returned to manufacturer Datacard Group for repairs, resulting in a one-day turnaround for cards becoming a 10-day turnaround,
Additionally, reports CongressDaily, workers needing help with or information about their TWIC cards are waiting far longer than they should when they contact a call-in center managed by the TWIC prime contractor, Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions.
Under the TWIC contract, callers should not wait more than three minutes. Now, the average wait time is 16 minutes, and callers usually hang up after eight minutes, CongressDaily reports a TSA spokesman as saying.
Lockheed Martin came up with a corrective action plan at the end of May, but tried to stick up TSA for more money. It has since apparently backed off on that demand and TSA says response times are trending down.
Meantime, House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson has written Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking some tough questions on the TWIC machine debacle.
Here's the text of his letter
It is my understanding that TWIC cards are only produced in one facility. In the past five years, during prototype and TWIC card production, how many times have the machines at this facility malfunctioned?
Is there an alternative location for production when the machines at this facility malfunction? If so, please provide me with information about this facility. If no alternative site for production exists, please explain the Department's rationale for failing to seek out an alternative site.
When will the eight machines that are currently offline be repaired and returned to production?
The fact that two-thirds of the machines have broken down at the same time may indicate that there is a design or operational flaw in the machinery. Has the Department or the contractor taken steps to determine whether such a flaw exists? If so, what steps has the Department or the contractor taken to prevent the recurrence of this malfunction? What steps has the Department or the contractor taken to assure that similar malfunctions will not occur in the remaining machines?
What is the total value of this production contract? Does the Department of Homeland Security's contract with the card manufacturing facility address the issue of machinery malfunction? If so, does the contract provide for a reduced price when the facility is not fully operational? If not, why not?
Was the contract to produce cards at this facility a sole source contract? If not, in narrative form, please explain all relevant circumstances surrounding the Department's decision to enter in this contract with this facility.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact Denise Krepp, Senior Counsel, Committee on Homeland Security at 202 226-2616.