State Department Eyes Fall 2022 Launch of Online Passport Renewal System
According to a department official, pilot testing of the new system with government employees and contractors is underway to smooth out functionality and operational errors, Federal News Network reported.
Inspector general reports note that the launch would facilitate greater continuity of operations and remote work among passport services employees, who were forced to return on-site earlier than other State Department personnel amid the pandemic due to the increasing backlog in passport applications.
During the height of the pandemic in May 2020, the department was only able to issue 13,000 passports, a significant drop from the 1.8 million passports it processed in the same month in 2019.
“Had the online passport renewal system been available, CA/PPT could have pivoted to remote work and kept a greater portion of the incoming passport applications moving throughout the COVID-19 pandemic-related maximum telework orders in 2020,” the IG office reported in September.
Processing of passport applications was on the upswing near the end of 2020 as the department started issuing quarter-million passports per week by mid-December, which was a rate comparable to pre-pandemic standards.
Backlogs, however, started mounting again in the summer of 2021, with there being as many as 2 million pending passport applications at the time.
The planned launch of the system comes as President Joe Biden signed an executive order on federal customer experience requiring the State Department to establish an online passport renewal capability that would eliminate the need to mail any physical documents.
Category: Digital Modernization
Tags: Bureau of Consular Affairs Department of State digital modernization Federal News Network IT upgrade passport application passport renewal system