Digitization of consular services no small task for US State Department

Digitization of consular services no small task for  US State Department

IG: State’s consular tech upgrade is slow going Digitization of consular services no small task as (leading) US State Department experiences Despite improvements in management, the State Department’s efforts to modernize disparate consular IT systems are lagging, and the office that manages these legacy systems is understaffed, according to a recent inspector general audit of

IG: State’s consular tech upgrade is slow going

Digitization of consular services no small task as (leading) US State Department experiences

Despite improvements in management, the State Department’s efforts to modernize disparate consular IT systems are lagging, and the office that manages these legacy systems is understaffed, according to a recent inspector general audit of the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ tech office.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs is State’s arm in charge of issuing visas and passports, and the Office of Consular Systems and Technology manages its IT operations, including State’s massive worldwide passport verification system, which contains more than 100 million visa cases and 75 million photographs and grows daily.

Following the system’s July 2014 crash, the office announced renewed efforts to modernize, but less than a year later, the system suffered another crash, which IG called “the more serious of the two because it resulted in a complete unavailability of a critical portion of the system” for about 13 days.

These failures underscored the need to upgrade bureau IT systems, which, according to auditors, “are functioning well beyond their designed life span.”

The office’s modernization program, Consular One, seeks to consolidate nearly 100 systems into one, including an online passport renewal service.

While employees expressed confidence in new CST director Kenneth Reynolds, who has helped to stabilize the current legacy systems, “such challenges as staffing vacancies and tensions with other CA offices” remain and have delayed Consular One’s launch.

The initial target date for Consular One’s rollout was the end of fiscal year 2017, but as of June 2016, no parts of the program had been deployed, and the current timeframe for its completion is estimated for 2020.

Auditors also noted that Consular One lacked security and contingency plans, which risks unauthorized access to State systems and does not account for protocol in the event of a system disruption.

According to the review, CST staff consists of 135 employees, and the tech office has 42 vacancies, which have increased over time and include several “high-priority” positions, such as a deputy director, a computer scientist and a financial officer. Auditors reported that because managers do not have enough time to commit to the lengthy recruitment and hiring process, the office relies heavily on contractors.

Due to staff shortages that threaten the success of Consular One, auditors suggested employing a shared services model wherein all eight offices within the Bureau of Consular Affairs dedicate staff to its development.

These staff shortages also contributed to weak or nonexistent internal controls, and forced certain divisions to take on responsibilities that should be handled by separate ones. For example, auditors found that the financial management division took on acquisition and contracting responsibilities.

Additionally, auditors pointed out that the Service Transition Division, which is in charge of Consular One’s implementation, lacks the authority to manage the program throughout its lifecycle.

Other IT management issues included an ineffective troubleshooting website, incomplete security checks and information security officer duties, lack of routine maintenance procedures, lack of an office records management program, insufficient communication between and within bureau offices, as well as insufficient management controls.

Auditors also found that the bureau failed to track unliquidated obligations, which resulted in the failure to use$18 million allotted to the bureau.

IG ultimately made 26 recommendations to address staff shortages and IT modernization efforts. State’s response was not included in the report, and the department was unable to supply comment to FCW by press time.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

Please follow and like us:

Diplo Portal Belgrade

A l’occasion de la venue de l’auteur Emmanuel Gras au Festival du film d’auteur, nous vous invitons [...]

Dana 15. novembra Ambasada Republike Poljske u Beogradu obeležila je 100. godišnjicu ponovnog stican [...]

preuzmi (8 MB, mp3, audio/mpeg, 320kbps, 44,1kHz) Article source: http://euinfo.rs/radio-vesti-eu-in [...]

Ambasador Francuske, gospodin Frederik Mondoloni je otvorio 9. novembra u 11 časova Međunarodnu godi [...]

RSS BIDD

  • John H. Brown 18/11/2018
    A Princeton PhD, was a U.S. diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Central/Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. After leaving the State Department to express opposition to the planned invasion of Iraq, he was privileged to have give-and-take conversations (officially called “courses”) with Georgetown University students pertaining to
  • Russia, North Korea discuss bolstering youth exchange programs – official 18/11/2018
    tass.com image (not from article) from According to the head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs Alexander Bugayev, they were interrupted due to some reasons PYONGYANG, November 18. /TASS/. Russia and North Korea are considering plans of stepping up cooperation to organize youth exchange programs, Head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs Alexander […]
  • Qatar elected as new president of Global Public Diplomacy Network 18/11/2018
    Joseph Varghese, gulf-times.com *The organisation’s 5th General Assembly gathers its members at Katara to discuss various topics and future projectsMembers of the Global Public Diplomacy [JB emphasis] Network (GPDNet) have unanimously elected Qatar as the next president of the organisation during the start of its fifth General Assembly at Katara – the Cultural Village on […]
  • The Encyclopedia of Diplomacy 18/11/2018
      Description The Encyclopedia of Diplomacy is a complete and authoritative 4-volume compendium of the most important events, people and terms associated with diplomacy and international relations from ancient times to the present, from a global perspective. An invaluable resource for anyone interested in diplomacy, its history and the relations between states Includes newer areas
  • Ambassadors of Music 18/11/2018
    Nourhan Magdi, Egypt Today, Sat, Nov. 17, 2018 Karkade’ Mohamed Abuzekry (L), Dina el-Wedidi and Youssra el-Hawary were nominated and selected for the fourth edition of the cultural exchange program Center Stage - Photos taken by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today Ambassadors of MusicBy: Nourhan Magdi Sat, Nov. 17, 2018 CAIRO - 17 November 2018: Knowing that […]
Please follow and like us:

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)