State Dept. Scrambles to Clear Passport Backlog

Foreign Service officers are under pressure days to sign up for tough assignments, from Baghdad to Kabul. Now, add one more to the list — facing angry Americans waiting for their passports. The State Department is trying to work through a huge backlog of applications — and it is calling on officers both current and retired to pitch in.

The employees are needed as the agency works to clear a backlog of 3 million applications.

Some State Department employees joke about the pull they feel, between going to Baghdad or the passport agencies. The Consular Affairs department seems to be trying to sweeten the deal, by providing travel expenses and a per diem for those who take up temporary assignments in the understaffed passports agencies, from New Hampshire to Hawaii.

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