A genuine U.S. passport is a vital document, permitting its owner to travel freely into and out of the United States, prove U.S. citizenship, obtain further identification documents, and set up bank accounts, among other things. Since May 2005, we have issued several reports identifying significant fraud vulnerabilities in the passport issuance process. This report (1) describes our recent work on passport fraud and (2) summarizes actions the Department of State (State) has indicated it is taking to address the fraud vulnerabilities we identified.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of State||1. The Secretary of State should improve the training and resources available to passport acceptance facility employees for detecting passport fraud, especially related to detecting counterfeit documents.|
|Department of State||2. The Secretary of State should, for applications containing an SSN, establish a process whereby passport specialists are not able to issue a passport prior to receiving and reviewing the results of SSN and Death Master File checks, except under specific or extenuating circumstances and after supervisory review.|
|Department of State||3. The Secretary of State should explore commercial options for performing real-time checks of the validity of SSNs and other information included in applications.|
|Department of State||4. The Secretary of State should conduct "red team" (covert) tests similar to our own and use the results of these tests to improve the performance of passport acceptance agents and passport specialists.|
|Department of State||5. The Secretary of State should work with state-level officials to develop a strategy to gain access to the necessary state databases and incorporate reviews of these data into the adjudication process.|