Friday, January 18, 2013

TWIC Renewal

Yesterday I began the steps to perform the 5-year renewal of my TWIC. I have the following to report:

1. Both TSA HelpDesk personnel that I spoke with were extremely courteous, apologetic about the wait, and seemed to be informed about the process.

2.  I received email notification about the transaction within minutes of its completion.

1.  I was unable to use the website to pre-enroll, as directed by the TSA TWIC FAQs. When I entered my personal information, I was moved onto a screen that informed me that I already have a TWIC and needed to enter a UserID and password. I could not recall whatever it was that I had selected 5 years ago.  I attempted to use both the “forgot UserID” function and the “forgot password” function. Clicking on these links led to a screen in which I was required to enter the answer to two challenge questions. The screen would not accept my answers, although I know they were correct.  I tried mis-spelling combinations and even that was unsuccessful. I also got an error message once as I was moving between screens. There is no moving forward from the challenge question screen so I was stuck. The option to use the website to pre-enroll was now closed to me.

2.  I then called the HelpDesk and experienced a combined wait on hold of one hour.  When an agent came on the line, she advised me that you cannot enroll for a 5-year renewal via the website.  She stated, “We need to help you with that.”  She asked me if I had ever contacted the HelpDesk before. I had, and she pulled up a case number and my card information. She said I would need to remember the case number as she was going to transfer me to another agent for payment and he would need the number.  There was a second lengthy wait and another agent came on the line and to take my ID and payment information.  This agent stated that the only way to renew the card for 5 years was to walk into an enrollment center, but that he could renew my TWIC for 3 years under the EED program. I did opt for the 3 year EED although I disagree with its basic premise because it excludes the background checks. Later I asked the agent for clarification about the procedure for renewing for 5-years and he stated that you can pre-enroll online but it is just as quick to walk into the enrollment center. I told him about the problems I was having with the website.  He was apologetic but stated that the website was a different branch of the program. So I basically got two answers as to whether one can use the website for the 5-year renewal: “yes” and “no”.

3. It appears to me from my experience that you cannot use the HelpDesk for the 5-year renewal, and that the website is experiencing problems so you cannot pre-enroll via the website. This leaves open the question: is possible that TSA is funneling many renewal requests into the EED option? This would greatly speed up and streamline  the renewal process but it defeats the purpose of the card.  We need at least an every-five-year snapshot of the backgrounds of the people who are being granted unescorted access to the secure areas of regulated facilities and vessels.