- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Most of the machines that print the cards are broken, according to a House member.

Of the 12 machines that make the cards, only four work, Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi Democrat, said in a letter Tuesday to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. It typically takes only a day to produce one of these cards, but it now takes up to 10 days because of the eight malfunctioning machines, Mr. Thompson said.

By next April, 1.2 million workers are expected to be enrolled in the program, which produces a tamperproof ID card intended to help ensure potential terrorists do not have access to sensitive security areas of U.S. seaports. As of June 6, 249,652 cards had been printed, leaving nearly 1 million to be produced between now and April.

The machines should be fixed and back to work this week, Transportation Security Administration spokesman Christopher White said.

“This minor delay should not significantly impact the program nor our ability to deliver cards,” Mr. White said.

The Bush administration already delayed the enrollment deadline by more than six months. For enrollment the department collects personal information including fingerprints, name, birth date, address and phone number.

And the program has faced other stumbling blocks - most recently that workers aren’t getting the help they need when they apply for the card.

The $70 million-plus program has been criticized because of potentially intrusive background checks on the workers and the $132.50 cost of the card, which workers pay. In addition, the department has not deployed machines to read the cards. There are plans to test the machines later this year.

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