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GOP lawmakers want to eliminate passport backlog with sweeping reform bill

First appearance on Fox: Two Republican senators are spearheading a sweeping reform bill aimed at eliminating passport processing backlogs that consistently pose difficulties for Americans wishing to travel abroad, but the bill is on the way to President Biden’s desk. It is thought that there is a high possibility that it will arrive.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Maria Salazar (R-Florida) have announced that they will continue to implement passport issuance reforms aimed at reducing passport processing times, a long-standing but still problematic issue. A processing solution method has been introduced. This has increased significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic closed offices and caused significant delays.

The authors note that the passport renewal delays currently faced by Americans, which the State Department puts at 7 to 10 weeks for a typical process, are significantly lower than in other countries where online capabilities and speed are more common. They say it’s late. Although processing times increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, they had not yet reached pre-pandemic levels and remained high, the authors said.

State Department warns of passport processing delays due to ‘unprecedented demand’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken He told lawmakers earlier this year that during the coronavirus pandemic, “the bottom tier has basically fallen out of the system” in the department, which handles both passports and visas. travel demand Demand has plummeted, and government agencies are still rebuilding to meet the surge in demand.

The State Department issued a record 22 million passports in fiscal year 2022, and officials said the agency is on track to break that record in 2023.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California is leading the bill along with Rep. Maria Salazar. (Ting Sheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“The collapse of the passport system represents a grave failure that has upset and inconvenienced tens of millions of Americans who have a right to expect far more from their government,” Issa said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “There is,” he said. “This innovative approach will not only address many of the issues that led to the backlog, it will also deliver overdue modernization and keep the system relevant for decades to come. .”

“The passport processing backlog has been a nightmare for voters, almost four years since the pandemic began,” Salazar said. “There is no excuse for forcing Americans to wait more than three months for passports. Our bill cleans up the mess at the State Department and gets this critical government service back on track.”

The purpose of this bill is for the federal government to leverage technology and best practices to reform the system so that U.S. citizens can renew their passports within 30 days. To accomplish this, in addition to setting government standards, it would also allow the State Department to hire up to 100 private service contractors for consular services in each fiscal year from 2024 to 2026.

Goals set include those around cybersecurity, affordability, customer service, and geographic access.

The bill would create a dashboard to allow Congressional caseworkers to track voter casework, a communications system for citizens to receive email and text alerts about the status of their passport renewals, and an app for those communications. I’m planning it.

Internet-based submission of initial and renewal applications will also be possible. Separately, the Government Audit Office will be required to review the passport issuance process to identify where further improvements can be made, including possible collaboration with other agencies.

salazar, capitol hill

Rep. Maria Salazar, R-Fla. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Issa’s office told Fox News Digital that he is confident the bill will pass out of committee and pass the House. He also hopes to see increased support from Democrats, with faster passport processing an area that has bipartisan support.

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The bill also has the support of Salesforce, a cloud-based software company that specializes in the type of software used to modernize passport processing.

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“The public expects government agencies to provide online services that rival the innovative consumer experiences found in the private sector. However, the impact of legacy systems can often lead to massive dissatisfaction. ,” Hugh Gamble, vice president of federal government affairs at Salesforce, told FOX. News Digital.

“Salesforce is excited about the steps Congress is taking to modernize government IT. This will accelerate the digital transformation of the public sector and make critical services as easy for voters to hail an Uber. It will ensure a future where people have access to the same things,” Gamble said.

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