A reader posted a comment about how her long-awaited trip to Scotland is likely going to get screwed up this summer thanks to the incompetence of the people at the State Department. In her comment she included a link to an article in today’s Los Angeles Times that, if accurate, will be totally dispiriting to anyone with a trip coming up who is waiting for a passport.
At the Los Angeles passport office, more than 150 people began lining up at 4 a.m. Tuesday, hoping to pick up their passports that had been promised them weeks before. The office, which is in the Federal Building in Westwood, provides last-minute passports for travelers living in the southern section of California and portions of Nevada.
Many of them had a flight within a day or two and couldn’t get through to anyone at the State Department either by phone or e-mail even though many had applied at least 12 weeks ago. Some who did get through were told that their passport had been express mailed to them a week earlier, only to be told later that it actually hadn’t left the building and was unlikely to get to them in time.
What a great government we have. First you can’t get through to them, then when you do finally get through, they give you faulty information.
Here’s the part of the article that really caught my eye:
The State Department estimates that it will process more than 17 million passports this year, a 40% increase from 2006, as new rules requiring passports for flights to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda are contributing to the record number of applications.
The agency said it has added 200 employees, recalled retirees with past passport experience and opened a new processing center in Arkansas.
Okay, let’s figure this out. The State Department estimates an additional 17 million passports and so hires an additional 200 people. If you divide the number of new hires (200) into the number of estimated additional passports requiring processing, you find that these 200 people would each have to process 85,000 passports to deal with the additional demand for which they’ve been hired. If these people worked 16 hours per day 365 days per year they each would have to process about 15 passports per hour to get the 17 million dealt with within a year. But they ain’t gonna work
20 16 hours per day, nor are they going to work 365 days per year. How in God’s name did the idiots at the State Department think that hiring a mere 200 people to deal with the extra number of passports they themselves estimated would accomplish anything?
This is what I mean about government incompetence.
Remember the Jet Blue fiasco several months ago. There were some canceled flights and scheduling snafus and a few planes that stayed out on the tarmac for a few extra hours. At most, the whole debacle inconvenienced a few thousand people. The CEO issued a public apology and had it printed in full page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers. He assured passengers that it wouldn’t happen again and sent free vouchers to those who got caught up in the mess. What did the government do during all this. A few members of congress got in a little grandstanding time by talking about how the government should regulate the airlines more heavily to insure that incidents such as this one don’t occur in the future. The government is always good about pointing the finger at others who under perform, and the recommended solution is always more government regulation.
What is the State Department going to do about this totally outrageous situation? Where are all the politicians threatening to sanction the State Department? This meltdown has cost more people more money and more grief than a thousand Jet Blue incidents, yet who is going to step up and make it right? Who is going to pay for all the non-refundable flights that people will lose out on? Who is going to take any responsibility whatsoever.
Aside from hiring the totally inadequate extra 200 people, what else are the dolts who are responsible for this situation doing about it?
All of its 18 passport offices are working overtime, and it even has had senior officials handle telephone calls after the end of their workday.
Well, la tee da! The State Department has even had it’s senior officials handle telephone calls after the end of their workday. I guess that’s why no one can get through. Do these morons think that this will even begin to make a dent in the extra 17 million passports that they knew were coming?
This is government incompetence at its very worst. And these are the same folks who want to bring you nationalized health care. And the movement is gathering momentum among the non-thinkers out there (i.e., the majority of the population). We should be very worried.