In 2007, following the implementation of new document requirements for travelers entering the United States from within the Western Hemisphere, the Department of State (State) received a record number of passport applications. In June 2009 further document requirements are scheduled to go into effect and will likely lead to another surge in passport demand. GAO examined (1) the extent to which State was prepared for the surge in passport demand and how its readiness affected passport operations, (2) State's actions to increase passport production capacity in response to the surge, and (3) State's readiness for near-term surges in demand and its strategy to improve passport operations. GAO interviewed officials from State and the Departments of the Treasury and Homeland Security, conducted site visits, and reviewed data on passport processing times and reports on passport operations.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of State||1. In order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of passport operations, the Secretary of State should develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy for passport operations using a business enterprise approach to prioritize and synchronize the department's planned improvements. Specifically, State should fully implement a concept of operations document that describes its desired end state for passport operations and addresses how it intends to transition from the current state to this end state.|
|Department of State||2. In order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of passport operations, the Secretary of State should begin tracking individual passport applications from the time the customer submits an application at an acceptance facility, in order to maintain better visibility over the passport process and provide better customer service to passport applicants.|