Get Real

States must be crying crocodile tears over woes at the State Department about delays in issuing passports. The federal government is struggling under an onslaught ...
by | March 19, 2007

States must be crying crocodile tears over woes at the State Department about delays in issuing passports.

The federal government is struggling under an onslaught of passport applications due to tougher immigration laws and a new regulation requiring Americans to have passports to fly out of the country, including to Canada, Mexico and the Carribbean. Applications for passports have risen 44 percent between October and March, over the same period last year, according to a story in The Washington Post. Sixteen production facilities are working overtime, including 24-hour days at one center in New Hampshire to help process the 17 million documents. Still, there's a 10-week wait for a passport at this point.

Does this, perhaps, help the federal government understand the problem with Real ID? Real ID is the law that will require that every driver get a new, more secure driver's license. Drivers will be required to come into a government office and show documents such as birth certificates and Social Security cards to do so. No more of this convenient Internet stuff. And you thought lines at the DMV branches were bad before? You think lines at the passport office are bad?

There are about 300 million people in this country and adult drivers make up a very large portion of that. States are expected to implement a system to issue Real ID cards by May 2008 -- despite the fact that the proposed regulations for doing so weren't issued until early this month, even though the legislation was passed in two years ago.

The State Department is struggling over a 5 million application increase and it's not being asked to do anything new. Just a higher volume of the familiar. When it comes to Real ID, some of the necessary databases don't even exist. And the numbers of documents that will have to be issued far exceeds the number of passports the State Department is struggling with.

Does anyone see a problem here?

Ellen Perlman
Ellen Perlman  |  Former columnist
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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