Author – name withheld due to fear of an angry and malicious government reprisal
Office of the Secretary of State
Subject: Passport Information
I have recently engaged in the process of renewing my passport and I am appalled at the lack of efficiency in government. I have had a United States passport for over 45 years and the process for obtaining a new one has become ever more cumbersome and convoluted.
The United States Post Office in the town nearest to where I live has somewhat recently started helping citizens get their renewal passport by providing the necessary forms and photographs on site for a fee. Although I was able to get the required forms at the post office, the photographic equipment was out of operation and I had to go elsewhere for photos.
I was able to get the required photos made in the prescribed format at the local drug store, for a fee. The posted sign at the photo kiosk prominently displayed “Official Passport Photographs”. The kiosk clerk operated the equipment and sized the photographs in accord with U.S. regulations.
I then returned home to engage in entering the information required on the passport forms. I am not able to understand why Wal-mart has my address and telephone number and is able to determine everything I have bought for the last five years yet the Federal Government is still asking where I was born. (Bear in mind that the old passport is surrendered as part of the process of obtaining a new one and it lists the required information). Do you folks still process everything by hand?
You have ample records of my birth date as it is embedded in the Medicare information you maintain on me. It is also listed on all of the Federal Income tax forms I have filed every year for the last fifty years. Same is true for my social security number which you insist on verifying once more. My birth date is on my driver’s license and the last five passports I have previously had. It is also on every customs declaration form I am required to submit before I can officially re-enter my own country after arriving on a flight from some other place.
By the way I am pretty miffed that, after twenty years, I am still subject to extraordinary additional questioning and inspections, on return arrival in the United States, just because my daughter lost HER passport, and had to have it replaced, many long years ago when her purse was stolen. I have been advised numerous times that if I want to get it straightened out I will have to take it up with the State Department; since it is Customs and Immigration that checks me out on arrival back in the United States and they have no way of deleting a State Department alert entry on their computer screen. In response to my inquiries the State Department does not seem to know what Customs and Immigration (Treasury) is talking about. What is the matter with you people, are you afraid to talk to one another? I have on occasion missed a connecting flight solely because of the time this additional search and interrogation takes.
Also, can you please tell me why you are interested in the last two countries I have visited and not all of the countries I visited? Should I ever, in a weak moment, consider a subversive act I would certainly visit at least two additional friendly countries before returning home. Your requirement that I attest whether or not I have visited a farm in the last fifteen days often causes me additional delay and questioning as I am apparently required to answer yes since I live on a farm.
After submitting my completed passport application, and eighty-five dollars, to the Houston passport office I waited the customary six weeks, and six or seven more.
My inquiry returned no response except “There has been a delay”. The next communication I received was from the Indianapolis office returning everything (to the address the government can never remember) and stating that the photographs were not regulation (wrong size or not enough features showing or possibly an unapproved format). (Take your choice I guess!) I went back to the drug store where the photos were originally made and learned that the size requirements had recently changed. I then had another set of photos made (for a fee). I resubmitted all of the paperwork with the new photos and eighty-five dollars.
Oh, by the way, all of the above information requirements are also on those intrusive census forms you bring around every ten years. Do any of you people ever seriously think about what you are doing?
Would you please take note that my father’s name is Allen and my mother’s name is Hattiemae? They have both been dead for many years and I would be absolutely astounded if they should ever attempt to change them. What do you people do with all of this information we keep having to provide?
I am really tired of the way government deals with its citizens. You send documentation to my house that asks me for my address. You ask me to verify the social security number YOU assigned to me. What sort of incompetents do you have working for my tax dollars?
Well I have to go now. I have to travel all the way to the county court house to get a certified copy of a birth certificate with my statistics on it (for a fee) and then get a paper notarized (for a fee) attesting that the person named on the birth certificate is really me. All this for another agency of government that apparently talks to no one else either.
I apologize if my frustration seems unfair to you. As I have aged my disposition has become noticeably more prone toward rejection, not acceptance, of the absolutely poor performance provided to its citizens by government.
(name deleted due to fear of an angry and malicious government reprisal)
An Irate Citizen
P.S. There is now no rush for me to have my renewal passport. The business opportunity I was addressing with my planned overseas trip has now been awarded to the citizen of another country.