On February 2, 2012, the State Department published a final rule in the Federal Register setting fees for issuance and renewal of U.S. passports and related consular services.
Contrary to some press reports, this rule didn’t actually increase the current fees. It merely “finalizes” the fee increases that have already been in effect for the last 18 months since the publication of an interim final rule (don’t you love that bureaucratic doublespeak?) in June, 2010.
What’s noteworthy about the “final rule” is that while it purports to include an updated analysis of the public comments on the fee increases, it continues to ignore our complaints that these fees, and the process by which they were adopted, violate both U.S. treaty obligations related to freedom of movement as a human right, and Federal law that requires an assessment of their economic impact on freelancers and other self-employed individuals.
We filed our complaint in the State Department’s designated docket, but also submitted it directly to the Secretary of State with a request that it be forwarded to the State Department’s designated “single point of contact” responsible for insuring that complaints of human rights treaty violations are responded to.
Our complaint of human rights treaty violations isn’t mentioned in the State Department’s analyses of public comments, and we’ve received no acknowledge or response from the Secretary’s office or anyone else at the Department. Our FOIA request and appeal for records of who the Secretary of State has designated as responsible for responding to such complaints, and what (if anything) they have done with ours, has been pending without even a partial response since July 2011.