Passport Fiasco Would Bankrupt a Private Company, But Government Lumbers On


Here is an email that I sent to Congressman Lee Terry’s office on Sat., March 24, 2007: 


I applied for a passport renewal on January 20, 2007.  The web form said that it would take about six weeks.  Later, on the web site they increased that to eight weeks.  Then 10 weeks.  The trip was scheduled for April 3rd, and as the weeks passed, my stress increased enormously.  I would have been willing (not happy, but willing) to pay the extra $60 for "expedited" service, if I had known they were going to lengthen the time for routine handling by a month.  But they only passed out that information after it was too late to do anything about it.  Insult was added to injury when the State Department passport office was unwilling to answer their phone after many tries at times ranging from early in the morning until a few minutes before midnight (eastern time).  Each time, a recorded voice would say:  visit the web site, or try to call later.  (But the web site did not have the answers to my questions, and calling "later" never worked.)

There is no excuse for the State Department not anticipating that there would be a huge increase in demand for passports when they put into effect the new mandate that passports be used to re-enter the U.S. from Mexico.  If a private business operated with the inefficiency of the passport office, they would justly go bankrupt. 

The only ray of sunlight in this dark vista was "Susie" of Lee Terry’s office.  When I called the Omaha office they put her on the line, and she asked me relevant questions, and proceeded to get back to me the same day with what I needed to know.  She got through to an actual human being at the State Department, and learned that I would receive my passport in a few days.  (I received it yesterday.)  "Thank you" to Susie, and thank you to Lee Terry, for having an office staffed with competent people, who care.


Art Diamond


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