State Department has made little progress in renewing passports online over the past decade


Written by Dave Nyczepir

The State Department has made “virtually no progress” on two passport system projects, one of which would allow people to renew their passports online, in the past decade, according to a report from the Office of the State Department. inspector general published Tuesday.

The OIG found that within the Office of Consular Affairs, the Passport Services Directorate (CA / PPT) relies too heavily on the Office of Consular Systems and Technologies (CA / CST) to manage its IT modernization initiatives. .

This over-reliance has delayed both online passport renewal and next-generation passport systems, which are part of the ConsularOne program launched in 2009 and which spent $ 59 million on passport projects in December 2020.

“If the online passport renewal system had been available, CA / PPT could have switched to remote working and retained a greater portion of incoming passport applications throughout the maximum telecommuting orders related to the COVID pandemic. -19 in 2020 ”, we read in the report. “However, as the system was not available, CA / PPT staff had to return to the office earlier than other department employees to clear the backlog of passport applications that had built up over the first few years. month of the pandemic. “

Only 13,002 passports were issued in May 2020, up from 1.8 million in May 2019, and revenues have increased from $ 852 million to $ 646 million.

The system targets for both systems in the passport services strategic plan for fiscal year 2020-2022 were “essentially unchanged” from plans dating back to fiscal 2010, according to the report.

The OIG found that CA / CST had not yet established a “sufficient” test environment that supported multiple scenarios for the online passport renewal system. The office started with an agile development approach before moving back to a sequential, step-by-step process.

Regarding the next-generation passport system, CA / CST struggled to develop software that could interface with new passport printers to print more secure passports. – delay a pilot until March 2021.

Although CA / CST was not part of the OIG investigation, an investigation into the ConsularOne program was subsequently launched in the spring.

For its part, CA / PPT lacked a project management process such as a collaborative performance evaluation plan, a communication plan and a risk management strategy. Senior staff were also not familiar with the project’s communication plans and did not document the contact points for each project, according to the report.

CA / PPT and CA / CST also failed to coordinate on interrelated project tasks, communication and planning. CA / CST was unable to provide CA / PPT with project timelines.

Accordingly, the OIG recommended that CA implement the department’s project management processes.

CA / PPT’s SharePoint site had broken hyperlinks and performance rewards information that hadn’t been updated since 2015. And its FAQ forum, PPT Answers, hadn’t been running since 2018, that’s why the OIG recommended CA to ensure that the content was regularly updated.

Finally, the OIG recommended that CA implement a process for storing archived advisory opinions on citizenship and passport adjudication matters so that they are searchable and easily retrievable.

CA agreed with all three recommendations in its July 29 response.

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