Due to the rising American public’s need for passports the Department of
State has announced its intention to open a new passport center in Tucson, Arizona.
The Tucson Passport Center is scheduled to open in the spring of 2008. It will
be a dedicated passport production facility which, at full capacity, will be able
to print up to 10 million travel documents annually for Americans traveling abroad.
The Department has contracted Stanley, Inc. to construct and operate the center,
under direct Department oversight. Stanley already operates a similar mega-processing
center in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with the capacity to produce up to 10 million
passports and travel documents, annually.
The mega-centers in Tucson and Hot Springs reflect the Department’s dynamic,
new approach to the production of passports for Americans. The other 17 domestic
passport agencies will electronically transmit approved applications to the two
mega-centers, which are dedicated solely to printing and mailing out large quantities
of passports. This allows the passport agencies to focus on customer service and
adjudicating more passport applications.
In the words of Ambassador Maura Harty, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular
Affairs, the bureau that oversees passport operations for the Department of State,
“The search for a second location led us to Arizona, and we are very pleased
that we could find both a well suited site and an able workforce in the beautiful
Tucson area.” Stanley will immediately begin construction of the Tucson
Passport Center, and will hire more than 150 full-time and part-time employees
in the next 12 months.
The Department is opening these two new centers in response to the anticipated
rise in passport demand as a result of the new passport rules of the Western Hemisphere
Travel Initiative (WHTI). WHTI regulations already require Americans to have passports
or other approved documents to enter, re-enter or depart the United States by
air, and it is likely that WHTI will be extended to travel in and out of the United
States by land and ferry in 2008.
In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, the Department issued a record 18.4
million passports, an increase of over 50 percent from the previous year. In light
of the new passport requirements, the Department anticipates issuing even more
passports this year. The Tucson Passport Center will be an important part of our
plans to meet the needs of the American public with timely and efficient service.