Saturday, February 23, 2008

Corruption at the United States Passport Office

My recent experience with the passport office raises two concerns about our government.

The passport office website informed me that it would take approximately 6 to 8 weeks to renew my passport. The actual work in issuing a new passport is minimal, and probably takes less than an hour. There is no reason why the entire process should ever take more than a couple of days, even at busy times. A typical private company would accomplish a similar administrative task in one day, or else be forced out of business by other companies that did. Denial (or delay) of a passport is a serious matter, preventing one from leaving the country. I am troubled that our government is unable to (or does not care to) perform a simple but important task in a timely fashion. But it gets worse.

I discovered that a "private" agency can get a passport in a day -- for a fee. That is corruption, pure and simple. The private agency does not know the secret way to fill out a form, nor does it have people standing in line holding a place just for its next customer. Quite to the contrary, the private agency has a connection (what kind, it is impossible to tell) which allows it to get a passport as fast as you happen to need it, for a sliding scale of fees. I paid to get my new passport back in a week, and that is when it was returned to me, but I noticed that it was actually issued the day after I left my old passport at the agency. Obviously, those with connections have no trouble getting a passport in the usual time.

Someone inside the government is selling the right to get a passport. It is no wonder that it takes six weeks to get a passport the "usual" way. If it took a day, no one would pay to get their passport faster!

Slowly but surely, the United States is becoming a corrupt third world country.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

I think it's corruption, but not the individual type you describe -- the type that's so rampant around the world. Here at home, corruption tends to involve manipulation of the political process. So what's happening at the passport office is likely comparable to the decision in L.A. to terminate the metrorail short of LAX. The private interests at stake -- taxi interests or the interests of these private passport companies -- likely lobbied to make the gov't offering less useful and efficient.