Daniel Krantz, Managing Partner
If you have ever flown out of a major airport, met with a financial advisor, visited a hospital, or clicked that perfect picture at a public landmark, your path has crossed public and privately-owned critical infrastructures that are critical to our nation’s security, economy, and way of life. A single incident could result in catastrophic reputational, human, and economic loss.
Core to the operations of these facilities are contractors, consultants, and vendors who staff daily operations, maintain or upgrade building systems, and build new infrastructure. Owners are more obligated than ever to assure that safety and security best-practices are used to validate the integrity of all workers who access sensitive areas or information. This large, transient workforce is highly mobile, and presents significant challenges to risk managers who are responsible for vetting prospective workers and securing physical access.
In 2007, to help face this challenge, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) selected Secure Worker Access Consortium (SWAC) to implement personnel assurance best-practices at the World Trade Center and the authority’s transportation infrastructure, some of the highest-value terrorist targets in the world. Since then, regional transportation authorities and large companies have joined SWAC’s unique cooperative effort; improving regional security; eliminating widespread duplication of effort and cost; and providing members with personal privacy protections.
9/11 Drives Innovation and Cooperation
The terrorist attack of 9/11 changed everything. Daniel Krantz, Managing Partner of SWAC, was introduced to SWAC’s co-founding partners, James and Marilyn Campbell. Together they formed a partnership that featured a unique combination of technology and services that continues to support the trusted SWAC community today. They recognized the need to find a balance between security and privacy in a post-9/11 world. Experts in web-based business systems, Krantz knew he could leverage his company’s platform to manage their newly-formed trusted community. And the Campbells had decades of experience dealing with workers’ highly personal information. This unique combination proved to be very powerful, the team earning the privilege of running PANYNJ’s Personnel Assurance Program (now known as SWAC) following a public bid.
They had unique insight into the need to simplify the process of vetting transient workers entering critical facilities. More than ever before, risk managers needed to know who people were, and whether they complied with security requirements before being allowed entry to secure environments. Krantz knew that applying their proprietary technology would eliminate massive duplication of effort among a large number of secure facilities throughout the NY/NJ region and beyond. The Campbells had deep experience as a third-party administrator of highly personal information, dealing fairly, respectfully, and privately with participating members.
Their efforts focused on critical success factors: effectiveness and efficiency. Krantz elaborates, “To be effective, we had to deliver the best private background screening in the country. A failure to accurately assess members’ potential threat to a facility could be catastrophic. We couldn’t let anyone slip through the cracks. Nor could we risk improperly denying a worker their right to work. We focused our program development efforts on assuring the accuracy, security, and availability of our technology and customer service locations.”
The more SWAC grows, the safer America becomes
Krantz continues, “To be efficient, we had to deliver a solution that was reliably and securely shared among regional public agencies, labor unions, and thousands of independent companies that support the capital construction needs of large facility owners. Workers regularly move from job to job, subject to redundant screening at each project. This multiplies the high cost of quality background screening and requires individuals to repeatedly submit their identity information for screening at each project. SWAC’s Secure Worker™ certification is portable and widely accepted. It eliminates massive duplication of effort and spreads the cost of members’ certifications across the entire region. We make sure that facility owners never pay to screen a member who is already certified.”
"A failure to accurately assess members’ potential threat to a facility could be catastrophic"
All Members Matter
SWAC is a unique public-private partnership that has earned strong participation from broad-ranging stakeholders. Public agencies and private corporations have worked together to build SWAC’s Trusted Community with a common goal of improving regional security. Risk managers have implemented a universal standard of best-practices for vetting personnel with access to sensitive areas or information. Labor has organized its workforce to assure availability of known, skilled, threat-free workers. Private companies easily and securely comply with new project requirements using free online enrollment, management, and reporting systems. Professional background screening companies guarantee accurate retrieval and handling of criminal history records in accordance with Fair Credit Reporting Act requirements. And Federal agencies provide robust, daily counter-terrorism screening.
“The combination and alignment of stakeholders’ efforts is what makes SWAC so uniquely successful”, says Krantz. “It’s a true privilege for our entire SWAC team to serve our government, corporate, and individual member customers. Our program helps everyone implement common-sense best-practices to improve regional security. SWAC supports big transportation agencies, large and small corporations, labor unions, corporate and individual members equally. All our members matter. It’s always our top priority to facilitate their cooperative efforts in the most secure, trusted, and reliable way.”
Secure. Trusted. Reliable.
SWAC processes more than one thousand membership applications every month on behalf of over 5,000 independent companies. It has more than 37,000 active members and is continuously growing. “The larger our trusted community grows, the more effective it becomes”, states Krantz. “We’re always working to introduce SWAC to new owner/operators. A new facility can join SWAC and gain access to our existing pool of known, threat-free members at no cost whatsoever. Cost should not prohibit employers’ access to a secure workforce. In fact, as our overall membership has grown, we’ve reduced the per person cost of SWAC membership. ”
However, joining SWAC doesn’t get you access to personal information about its 37,000 members. Access to sensitive data is strictly controlled and audited. Advanced system user permissions limit access to data a user is authorized to view. And all users’ activity is audited to monitor user and system integrity. For example, a corporate HR user can only see the enrollment and screening information about their own workers. If an active SWAC member changes employment, the new employer must first validate the member’s personal data before access is granted to the member’s record.
A Security Guard’s “view” of members’ records is even more restricted. Even though all member records are available for real-time compliance verification, field security personnel simply see a picture of the member with a green or red indicator that validates or denies compliance with the program’s identity, criminal background, and counter-terrorism vetting requirements.
“Our technology systems help assure that SWAC never inappropriately discloses members’ personal data”, explains Krantz. “We recognize the need to share information in a safe and efficient way, but we reject the notion that all information has to be shared. We limit data access based on the type of user and monitor the integrity of all systems users. Data privacy and security are critical in maintaining the support of our members.”
Becoming a SWAC member is easy and begins with simple online application forms. Companies register online for free and establish debit accounts for payment of individual membership applications. An account code links workers to their respective corporate sponsors. Unsponsored workers have the option of paying for their own application with a credit card. After submitting their membership applications, all applicants must visit a SWAC Processing Center (one of seven centers in NY or NJ) where applications are reviewed by a trusted SWAC Agent, identity documents are authenticated, and ID photos are taken. Upon receiving a complete application, SWAC’s technology systems automatically forward required identity information to professional background screening firms for address history verification and criminal history screening. Any criminal records containing potentially disqualifying felonies are reviewed, confirmed by manual court document searches, and adjudicated in accordance with Federal guidelines for critical infrastructure protection. “Trusted SWAC Agents make sure that all information is collected, managed, and reported in a fair, accurate, secure, and private manner”, says Krantz. “We also make sure all applicants receive clear notification of screening results, and we facilitate their direct access to the appropriate screening company to clarify or dispute reported records. We’re here to support all members’ needs in complying with security requirements at our owner-customers’ facilities.”
Real-time Compliance in the Palm of Your Hand
In order to extract the value of their trusted community, SWAC needed to deliver real-time verification of members’ compliance directly to field security operations. Krantz calls it “the last mile.” He explains, “We don’t tell security professionals what security policies to implement at their facilities. With SWAC, risk managers and security professionals can determine, and modify as necessary in response to changing threats, the detailed compliance requirements at unique locations, some more secure than others. SWAC delivers real-time verification of each worker’s personal integrity based on the location’s requirements at a moment in time.”
While SWAC’s technology always provided authorized users with real-time compliance verification, they recently launched a Mobile Authentication Tool (‘MAT’) that make this valuable operational function available to authorized users on their Apple or Android device. Security personnel can now scan SWAC membership ID cards with their smartphone and receive instant verification of any member’s compliance with their current location’s security policy.
SWAC Confronts the Insider Threat
As the world moves toward a model of contracted workers versus full-time employees, the need for a program such as SWAC has never been more pronounced. Transient workers, or “insiders” present a difficult challenge for security personnel. Krantz says, “If I want to compromise your facility, I’m going to buy your cleaning company, and insert my operatives when they have full access and minimal supervision.” SWAC delivers a unique solution that unites all industry stakeholders in their efforts to mitigate this threat. Krantz says, “The more SWAC grows, the safer America becomes.”