June 7, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) called for needed process improvements and transparency from the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, which handles the distribution of passports. Ricketts also advocated for more options close to Nebraska.
While the State Department’s website states passport processing is currently taking 10-13 weeks for routine applications and 7-9 weeks for expedited processing, many Nebraskans have contacted Ricketts’ constituent services staff experiencing significantly longer delays. Ricketts called for process improvements using proven methodologies like Lean Six Sigma, which was successfully utilized in Nebraska during his time as Governor. He also called for public transparency about the backlog data.
“I walked into this committee hearing sympathetic because I ran a business that experienced rapid growth and had to address customer needs, and I know it’s a challenge,” said Senator Ricketts. “You’ve got to bring on people – and I’m glad to hear that you’re trying to get hired up as well – but that’s not going to solve your problem. You need to address the system that you’ve got in place to be able to do that.”
“I can tell you, again, just sharing the experience in Nebraska, that a few years ago it was a couple [passports] a month that we would get asked for help. I’m told, in the Senate office now, my caseworkers are getting five or six a day,” Ricketts continued. “You just told us you don’t even have a goal that you’re trying to reach to be able to get to – whether it’s two weeks, three weeks, four weeks – down from your 10 to 13 weeks. Again, I’ve run large organizations, including most recently the state of Nebraska. If you don’t set a goal, you are not going to get better. You have to set a goal first so you can work backwards.”
Nebraskans struggling with the passport application process can reach out to Ricketts’ constituent casework team at (202) 224-4224 or by visiting ricketts.senate.gov/services.
Ricketts comments came during questioning of Rena Bitter, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Consular Affairs during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The hearing was entitled “State Department Services for The American People: An Overview of Consular Affairs and Programs.”
Watch the video HERE.
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