Get Your Passport Applications in Early!

Today’s criticism of government caught unaware comes courtesy of this article in the Buffalo News, which highlights congressional investigators’ findings that the State Department “has not developed a ‘comprehensive, long-term strategy’ to modernize its passport application process.” The investigation argues that unless changes are made quickly, the new passport regulations that go into effect in 2009 will create similar headaches for millions of Americans (which, unfortunately, includes me).

The investigation cited the passport debacle in 2007, which clearly showed that the State department was not ready for the inrush of passport applications due to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative established by Homeland Security.

Department officials have acknowledged underestimating the high demand for passports last year, but said it was a historic change in behavior by Americans that was not predicted.

Not predicted?  The WHTI Final Rule came out in November, 2006 with explicit passport requirements for air travel that affected the Caribbean, Bermuda and other highly-popular off-shore vacation spots, starting in January 2007.  Every vacationer or vacationer-wannebee was affected by that change, as were regular (read: many thousands of) air travelers to Mexico and Canada.  Officials in the State Department had no comment other than to say that they couldn’t predict the demand and therefore couldn’t prepare for it.

You mean sort of like how FEMA couldn’t prepare for Katrina and its effects on New Orleans because the effects of such a storm couldn’t have been predicted?

Being caught unaware – or unwilling to prepare, or cutting budgets that hinder preparedness – has been pervasive and significant and largely irrelevant to this Administration (for a left-leaning eye-opener, read this article); one wonders how the Executive Branch continues to rationalize its decision-making process by denying the problem.

The current Administration’s propensity to do so until it’s way too late is, hopefully, something that will be addressed by the next Adminstration, whoever ends up leading it.  If there is one thing that I’ll remember this Administration for, it’s for the lack of a Plan B.


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