Friday, April 24, 2009

Slowness Serves as Validation Check

My wife and I had some problems getting our passports through. (A word of advice--never say you have no plans for foreign travel, even when you don't. The system seems to be set up to expect a specific departure date. When I looked up my grandfather's passport application in it showed specific departure date and place. So probably the State Dept. has just carried that forward over the centuries, regardless of the fact that passports are being required for any foreign travel, even Canada and Mexico, these days.)

Anyhow, my problems made me attend to news reports, including this. GAO found they were issuing some passports based on SSN's of dead people (also sounds like FSA's problem in the past). Turns out:
State was experiencing a relative lull in applications in late 2008 after a spike in 2007, Sprague noted. The database check can take a day, which was never an issue when employees faced a backlog of applications in 2007, she said. But when the workload decreased and passport applications could be processed much faster, some specialists and supervisors didn't know to wait for the database check to be completed.
So the interface between State and SSA worked fine as long as State was slow enough. I love it.

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