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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Strategic Goal 6: American Citizens


Strategic Goal 6: American Citizens

Assist American Citizens to Travel, Conduct Business, and Live Abroad Securely

Public Benefit

The Department has no more vital responsibility than the protection of American citizens. Approximately 3.2 million Americans reside abroad, and Americans make about 60 million trips outside the United States each year.  The Department issues a passport that gives Americans the freedom to travel internationally and is a symbol of the protection that the USG provides its citizens. 

U.S. embassies and consulates provide a range of services that protect U.S. citizens from the cradle to the grave.  The Department must plan for the unexpected and be prepared to respond to crises abroad, transportation disasters, and other situations in which U.S. citizens need assistance, including incidents of terrorism and other serious crimes such as hostage taking, homicide, assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and international parental child abduction.  The Department ensures that host governments take steps to protect Americans from crime and unrest; develop effective investigative, prosecutorial, and other judicial capabilities to respond to American victims of crime; and expand their cooperation and information sharing with the United States in order to prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens.  The Department also works with foreign governments, other USG agencies, and international organizations on transportation security initiatives. 

To alert Americans to conditions that may affect safety and travel abroad, the Department disseminates threat assessments to posts abroad and announcements to the public as quickly as possible using all available means.  The Department uses its websites and the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), a government-private sector partnership, to foster creative solutions to security‑related issues affecting U.S. private sector interests abroad and to share USG threat information and security expertise overseas to protect their personnel, property, proprietary information, and other assets. The Department is making its websites increasingly accessible and interactive. 

Performance Goal 1

U.S. Citizens Have the Consular Information, Services, and Protection They Need When They Reside, Conduct Business, or Travel Abroad

Summary of Projected FY 2004 Performance

The Department will continue training consular officers, enhancing the systems that they use to provide services to Americans, and otherwise preparing them to assist Americans in need. The Department will enhance its crisis management capability and ability to track how many U.S. citizens abroad are victims of terrorism and other serious crimes such as kidnapping, homicide, rape, assault, and child abuse. The Department will continue to provide American businesses and private organizations with a forum to address their security concerns via the Overseas Security Advisory Council. As a result of these efforts, at the end of 2004, Americans will be better equipped to deal with the uncertainties of life abroad, and the Department will be better equipped to help when they encounter trouble.

Example of an FY 2002 Achievement:
Federal Benefits --
After an anthrax attack shut down the Department's Dulles Airport mail facility and impeded the timely delivery of monthly U.S. federal benefits checks to overseas recipients, the Department worked with the Treasury Department and benefit-paying agencies to arrange alternative methods for delivering checks to recipients. What could have been an acute financial hardship for thousands of beneficiaries and a management nightmare for U.S. embassies worldwide was instead a stellar example of interagency cooperation, customer service, and efficiency.

The Department plans to expand the Consular Call Center's scope to provide routine and non-Privacy Act information regarding the safety and welfare of American citizens abroad. Thus, by the end of FY 2004, case officers will no longer have to spend large amounts of time on routine inquiries and can devote the majority of their time helping Americans who face difficulties abroad.  To improve the ability of Americans to make informed decisions about personal security in foreign countries, the Department will revise all Consular Information Sheets on an annual basis by the end of FY 2004.

Performance Trend: FY 2000 - FY 2004 --
Percentage of Consular Information Sheets Revised Annually:
2000 (Result): 64%
2001 (Result): 76%
2002 (Result): 86%
2003 (Target): 100%
2004 (Target): 100%

The Department will improve its ability to collect registration information and make it accessible to the field by creating an Internet site allowing Americans to register their travel plans.  Providing the option of registration on-line will encourage more Americans to register their presence abroad, improving the chances of being able to contact them in an emergency and to offer assistance. By the end of 2004, enhancements to the on-line registration system will also deliver travel safety information about the countries on their itinerary to citizens when they register.

The Department will focus on implementation of the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention in 2004.  In accordance with the Convention and U.S. implementing legislation, the Department will assume new responsibilities and roles, including oversight of an accrediting entity (or entities) for intercountry adoptions and mechanisms for registering complaints concerning adoption service providers.  The Department will seek contractual support for discrete or one-time functions, such as the development of training and informational materials. It is anticipated that the treaty will enter into force for the United States in 2004.   At the end of FY 2004, as a result of the Department's efforts, the Convention will govern American adoption from fifty countries; protect the rights of children and parents; and help Americans avoid the child trafficking, fraud, corruption, and other irregularities that have disrupted intercountry adoptions in the past. 

The Department will continue to expand the Voting Assistance Program to increase overseas absentee voter participation in the 2004 elections.

Summary: Indicators, Results, and Targets










Indicator #1: Percentage of Consular Information Sheets Revised on an Annual Basis.






Indicator #2: Access to On-Line Registration System.

Some posts allowed registration on‑line.

Assessment of Registration and Warden List Services completed. U.S. embassies worked with the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) to formulate a global plan for allowing U.S. citizens to register with posts electronically.

Pilot software was developed for an Internet-based system that will allow Americans to register overseas travel itineraries at a central website.

U.S. citizens can use a global Internet-based registration system to inform U.S. embassies and consulates about their planned travel to other countries so that they can be contacted in an emergency.

On-line registration system will begin to deliver Consular Information Program documents to citizens when they register.

Indicator #3: Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption Implemented.

The Senate ratified the Convention. Congress passed the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 to implement the Convention.

The President signed the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (PL 106-279) on October 6, 2000. Requirements for a federal accreditation program for adoption agencies and other new programs were established.  Adoption regulations were drafted.

Adoption regulations were discussed and cleared with stakeholders and other federal agencies.

Software to manage international adoption cases was delayed to accommodate the Department's new responsibilities as Central Authority under the Hague Convention on adoptions.

Adoption regulations are published in the Federal Register.

Accrediting agency/agencies is/are selected and will begin to process all adoption providers that qualify for accreditation. U.S. instruments of accession deposited.

Means and Strategies by Target

Revise all Consular Information Sheets on an annual basis.

•         Expand the services provided by the contractor-operated Call Center, freeing Department staff to create and update information more frequently.

Deliver Consular Information Program documents via the on-line registration system to U.S. citizens when they register.

•         Develop a standard, worldwide Internet site allowing American citizens to register with any post or to record itineraries and emergency contacts for short trips abroad. 

•         Make the Internet-based Registration Service easy to use and ensure that functionality, technical, and security aspects are aligned with Department directives, integrated with current and future consular systems, and facilitate the sharing of travel information among consular sections and systems. 

•         Complete and deploy additional functionality, including the ability to collect long‑term registrations for overseas posts and provide information to registrants. 

Select accrediting agency/agencies to process all adoption providers that qualify for accreditation; deposit U.S. instruments of accession.

•         Assign more staff to this area and obtain contractual support for discrete or one-time functions.

•         Promulgate regulations establishing accreditation/approval standards, criteria, and procedures; designate one or more entities to accredit U.S. adoption agencies for intercountry adoptions and approve other bodies and persons wishing to provide adoption services covered by the Convention.

•         Create a computerized case-tracking system for U.S. intercountry adoptions, both incoming and outgoing.

•         Establish a program to share information with adoption service providers, state courts and public authorities, the U.S. adoption community, and future adoptive parents concerning their role in compliance with the requirements of the Convention, the implementing legislation, and federal regulations.

Performance Goal 2

Effective and Timely Passport Issuance, With Document Integrity Assured

Summary: Projected FY 2004 Performance

A major near-term focus will be the development of a system to introduce biometrics into the U.S. passport.  The Department anticipates that, because of U.S. requirements in the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act that mandate the adoption of biometrics in foreign travel documents used to enter the United States, other nations will implement reciprocal requirements for U.S. visitors.  The Department will work with other nations to develop biometric standards for passports and in 2004 will begin to develop systems and procedures to collect biometrics. The need to incorporate biometrics and other security devices will require a redesign of the U.S. passport so that it can include a device, such as an embedded chip, onto which the biometric data can be written.  By 2004, the Department will have taken the first steps toward a more secure passport that can be linked to the true bearer by biometric technology, making use by impostors virtually impossible.

By 2004, the Department will modify the systems used at posts to enable electronic transmission of passport application data, including digital photographs, from overseas posts to a domestic passport office to cut down on processing time and maximize the number of passports issued in the more secure, digitized format. The Department anticipates processing 7.1 million passport applications in 2003 and 7.6 million in 2004.  Workload projections show that yearly passport demand could rise to more than 9 million by 2008, which exceeds the production capacity of the existing infrastructure. In the interim, the Department will construct and equip a passport facility in the western United States to meet the anticipated demand for passports.

Example of an FY 2002 Achievement:
Passports --
An important element in the return of an American child abducted to Guyana was the arrest and indictment of the relative who forged his mother's name on the child's passport application. The two-year-old was returned to his mother in New York in May after the FBI had his aunt arrested and indicted for conspiracy, fraud, and abetting child abduction. This is the second known indictment under a 1999 law aimed at combating parental child abduction and requiring that both parents sign the passport application of children under fourteen years of age.

To further homeland security initiatives, the Department will continue through 2004 a project to image digitally 32 million passport records dating from 1994 to 1999, 450,000 lookout files relating to persons who may not be issued passports or whose applications require special scrutiny, and 200,000 citizenship and loss of nationality files.  The scanning of applications for older but still valid passports and other important citizenship documents will provide the benefit of making images as well as data available to consular offices worldwide, adding speed and security to the passport process and contributing to homeland and border security.

Photo substitution is now more difficult with the photodigitized passport; the Department will continue to identify ways to enhance the physical integrity of the passport.  In addition to maintaining document security, the Department must now close the loop on fraud perpetrated during the application process.  The Department has done preliminary work with the Social Security Administration (SSA), which is establishing connections with the vital records offices of the fifty states.  The Department expects to have electronic access to SSA data by 2004.  Beginning in FY 2004, the comparison of documents and information provided by passport applicants against the original records held by other agencies will be an important step toward greater integrity of the passport adjudication process by minimizing the potential for breeder-document fraud.  The Department will continue efforts to detect, investigate, and seek assistance from U.S. attorneys to prosecute passport fraud.

Summary: Indicators, Results, and Targets









Indicator #1: Development of a Biometrics Collection Program for U.S. Passports.

Biometrics were not used in U.S. passports.

Biometrics were not used in U.S. passports.

Inclusion of biometric indicators in U.S. passports considered.

Initial planning and requirements definition for biometrics collection.

Prepare for 2005 roll out of the system by developing software, conducting initial procurement, and beta testing for biometrics collection. 

Indicator #2: Checking of Passport Applications Against SSA Death Records.

Capability did not exist.

Capability did not exist.

Capability did not exist.   Initial work done to share data and check information.

Continue to work to establish a data link with SSA systems.

Check 35 percent of applications. (Ultimate goal is 100 percent.)

Means and Strategies

Prepare for 2005 roll out of the system by developing software, conducting initial procurement, and beta testing for biometrics collection.

•         Identify the security devices that will be embedded in the new passport and complete the design for the passport. 

•         Sign new MOUs with application acceptance facilities, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Government Printing Office (GPO) and/or other partners in the passport process, as necessary.

•         Establish a contractual source for public key infrastructure and key management that will be necessary for the digital signing of the documents and the control of keys with agencies and other governments that will read the passport. 

•         Procure and install systems and equipment to capture and enroll personal biometrics at passport agencies and application acceptance facilities, transfer biometric data securely from enrollment locations to issuance facilities, check data against existing records, and store data on-board the passport and in the Department's electronic records systems.

Check 35 percent of applications against SSA death records.

•         Identify the fields that might be used in the data exchange process to confirm identities.

•         Negotiate a MOU or other arrangement with SSA to establish a data link that would provide the Department with access to current Social Security number data and death records.  

•         Work with SSA to expand the Vital Records Verification Project.

Summary: Verification/Validation and Crosscutting Activities

Performance Goal 1

U.S. citizens have the consular information, services, and protection they need when they need to reside, conduct business, or travel abroad.

Verification and Validation

•         Information posted on Department's web site at for public inspection. 

•         Project management milestones. 

•         Testing and review of systems by users, project team, and independent verification and validation (IV & V). 

•         Customer surveys.

•         Reports to Congress.

Crosscutting Activities

•         The Department will work with the elements of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) handling immigration and citizenship matters to develop regulations covering intercountry adoption procedures and to create a shared database to ensure successful tracking of adoption cases from the filing of immigrant petition through the finalized adoption, naturalization in the U.S., and beyond.

•         The Department works on parental child abduction cases with the Department of Justice, law enforcement agencies, state and judicial officials, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

•         The Department coordinates with other federal agencies and victims services agencies to ensure that appropriate services are available to victims of crime, survivors of disasters, and their families.

•         The Department works with the Department of Defense on crises involving non-combatant evacuations and on efforts to facilitate absentee voting by private Americans abroad.

•         The Department expects to contract with private sector experts for accreditation of intercountry adoption service providers, systems development, training, publications, surveys, and other functions that are not essentially governmental.

Performance Goal 2

Effective and timely passport issuance, with document integrity assured.

Verification and Validation

•         Project management milestones.

•         Testing and review by users and project team and IV & V.

Crosscutting Activities

•         The Department will work with the International Civil Aviation Organization to establish biometric standards for passports.

•         Preparation for collection of biometric data at the federal, state, and local government offices that accept U.S. passport applications will require considerable work with those agencies, as well as with DHS, whose officers will need to be able to read the encoded data in the new passports at ports of entry. 

•         The redesign of the passport will involve collaboration with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the GPO.

•         The Department will work with the SSA and with the states on issues involving access to SSA and vital records needed to confirm the authenticity and accuracy of documents submitted in connection with passport applications.


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