The Department won the 2012 Archivist's Achievement Award for innovative and cost-effective use of technology for a records management tool that will be adopted as a best practice in the U.S. Government. The Department leveraged the technology with a dynamic website that received over 3,000 online Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, posted nearly 3,500 declassified documents, and hosted over 1,000 visitors daily (over 350,000 annually). The Department declassified nearly three million pages of permanent historical records covering U.S. foreign policy, and declassified and released over 100,000 pages in response to FOIA requests. Other management achievements this year include:
As part of the Department's effort to build a 21st Century workforce and strengthen diplomacy, the Foreign Service and Civil Service position baselines increased by 21 and about nine percent, respectively, since 2008. In FY 2012, the Department also worked with Consular Affairs to fill a consular staffing gap in China and Brazil with 44 Limited Non-Career Appointments.
In FY 2012, the Department filled over 95 percent of its top-priority posts positions for the 2013 assignments cycle. The Department met or exceeded OPM's goals for hiring of veterans and individuals with disabilities since the President signed the November 2009 and July 2010 Executive Orders mandating increased recruitment of qualified individuals among these groups, and the Department is on track to meet OPM's goals this year.
The White House issued an Executive Order establishing visa and foreign visitor processing goals, which stated that more than 80 percent of all applicants worldwide should have their visa interview within three weeks of receiving their application. Currently, the Department is exceeding this goal.
Passport Services issued over 13.1 million passports in FY 2012, a four percent increase from FY 2011; further demand increases are projected for FY 2013. Processing times for issuing a passport averaged 8.3 days for routine service and 3.3 days for expedited requests. During the busy season (February through June), Passport Service's processing times remained responsive at 8.9 days for routine and 3.4 days for expedited requests.
The Department of State is leading interagency efforts on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard—a website dedicated to improving the transparency of U.S. Government foreign assistance investments around the world. To support this effort, in 2012 OMB released Bulletin 12-01, which provides federal agencies guidance on the collection of standardized foreign assistance data. The Bulletin and Dashboard will facilitate the USG's many domestic and international foreign assistance-related reporting requirements.
In FY 2012, the Department's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) identified challenges in the areas of: protection of people and facilities; contract and procurement management; information security and information management; financial management; military to civilian-led presence in Iraq and Afghanistan; foreign assistance coordination and oversight; diplomacy with fewer resources; public diplomacy; effective embassy leadership; and consular operations. The Department promptly takes corrective actions in response to OIG findings and recommendations. Information on corrective actions taken and remaining can be found on pages 156-168 of the Department of State's FY 2012 Agency Financial Report.