May 25, 2010

Schedule of Fees for Consular Services, Department of State and Overseas Embassies and Consulates

Proposed Rule
Summary

Score: 13 / 60

Additional details
Agency
Department of State
Regulatory Identification Number
1400-AC41
Agency Name
Department of State
Rule Publication Date
01/29/2008
Comment Closing Date
01/31/2008

RULE SUMMARY

The Department of State is revising the Schedule of Fees for Consular Services to reflect an increase in the surcharge related to consular services in support of enhanced border security and a reduction in the execution fee for the passport book. The Secretary of State is authorized to collect the border security surcharge by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (Pub. L. 108–447). In 2007, Congress authorized the Secretary of State to administratively amend the surcharge amount in the Department of State Authorities Act of 2006 (Pub. L. 109–472). The Secretary is also authorized to set and collect a fee for executing passport applications by 22 U.S.C. 214.

METHODOLOGY

There are twelve criteria within our evaluation within three broad categories: Openness, Analysis and Use. For each criterion, the evaluators assign a score ranging from 0 (no useful content) to 5 (comprehensive analysis with potential best practices). Thus, each analysis has the opportunity to earn between 0 and 60 points.

Criterion Score

Openness

1. How easily were the RIA , the proposed rule, and any supplementary materials found online?
The RIA is only located within the rule itself, which is available through a RIN search on regulations.gov (four clicks). It could not be found on the State Deptartment website.
3/5
2. How verifiable are the data used in the analysis?
Increase of fees data are obvious. But statements such as expected record demand for passports and increased border security coming from the regulation are not supported with any data; there little to no evidence data even used.
1/5
3. How verifiable are the models and assumptions used in the analysis?
No verification is possible of statements of high demand or of increased security benefits. Also, the expectation of the fee having minimal impact on applicants may be true but is not verified here.
0/5
4. Was the analysis comprehensible to an informed layperson?
The analysis is written for the layperson, but does not have a complete RIA with all the essential and required information. Most readers would understand all of it.
3/5

Analysis

5. How well does the analysis identify the desired outcomes and demonstrate that the regulation will achieve them?
1/5
Does the analysis clearly identify ultimate outcomes that affect citizens’ quality of life?
The analysis states that without the surcharge increase, the department would not be able to efficiently meet passport demand and the security measures on borders would not be sufficient.
3/5
Does the analysis identify how these outcomes are to be measured?
The analysis asserts that border security is important but says this is unquantifiable. This is not made clear nor is it obvious.
0/5
Does the analysis provide a coherent and testable theory showing how the regulation will produce the desired outcomes?
If the desired outcome is border security, then there is no mention of a theory. It is not clear how raising the surcharge to equal the cost of passports would achieve this better than any other rule.
0/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
No; the analysis talks about the department's estimates for passport demand but offers nothing on theory or empirical support.
0/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the outcomes?
The analysis does not address this topic.
0/5
6. How well does the analysis identify and demonstrate the existence of a market failure or other systemic problem the regulation is supposed to solve?
1/5
Does the analysis identify a market failure or other systemic problem?
The problem is border security and high demand causing costs of passport supply to outstrip funding. But it's not clear what the border security problem actually is, besides "border security." Nothing is testable.
1/5
Does the analysis outline a coherent and testable theory that explains why the problem (associated with the outcome above) is systemic rather than anecdotal?
The analysis does not address this topic.
0/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
The RIA mentions the costs of new, secure passports and mailing methods; however, this does not demonstrate there is a border security problem nor that this proposed rule will deal with it.
1/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the existence or size of the problem?
The analysis does not address this topic.
0/5
7. How well does the analysis assess the effectiveness of alternative approaches?
1/5
Does the analysis enumerate other alternatives to address the problem?
The analysis mentions paying the costs by taking funds from other programs.
1/5
Is the range of alternatives considered narrow (e.g., some exemptions to a regulation) or broad (e.g., performance-based regulation vs. command and control, market mechanisms, nonbinding guidance, information disclosure, addressing any government failures that caused the original problem)?
The range is very narrow.
1/5
Does the analysis evaluate how alternative approaches would affect the amount of the outcome achieved?
The evaluation is shallow.
1/5
Does the analysis adequately address the baseline? That is, what the state of the world is likely to be in the absence of federal intervention not just now but in the future?
The analysis states that funding would come from elsewhere.
2/5
8. How well does the analysis assess costs and benefits?
1/5
Does the analysis identify and quantify incremental costs of all alternatives considered?
The analysis identifies the direct costs of the change, but not the baseline or other alternatives.
1/5
Does the analysis identify all expenditures likely to arise as a result of the regulation?
The analysis does not project the number of fees likely to be paid to calculate total expenditure, or what groups (i.e. which countries' travelers) would pay most.
2/5
Does the analysis identify how the regulation would likely affect the prices of goods and services?
The analysis does not address this topic.
0/5
Does the analysis examine costs that stem from changes in human behavior as consumers and producers respond to the regulation?
The analysis does not address this topic.
0/5
If costs are uncertain, does the analysis present a range of estimates and/or perform a sensitivity analysis?
The analysis does not address this topic.
0/5
Does the analysis identify the alternative that maximizes net benefits?
The analysis does not address this topic.
0/5
Does the analysis identify the cost-effectiveness of each alternative considered?
The analysis discusses not charging higher fees and loss of ability to meet projected demand as a result.
1/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would bear costs and assess the incidence of costs?
Passport applicants in general.
2/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would receive benefits and assess the incidence of benefits?
The analysis assumes that border security benefits citizens generally.
1/5

Use

9. Does the proposed rule or the RIA present evidence that the agency used the analysis?
The RIA seems more like an ex post RIA written to justify a decision already made.
1/5
10. Did the agency maximize net benefits or explain why it chose another alternative?
"Unquantifiable benefits" but nonetheless states, "Thus, the benefits of this rule exceed its costs."
0/5
11. Does the proposed rule establish measures and goals that can be used to track the regulation's results in the future?
No, and it's not clear that one could establish measures to track the rule's results, as most of the benefits are unquantifiable. Still, if meeting demand is a goal, then presumably timeliness of service would be a measure to track it.
0/5
12. Did the agency indicate what data it will use to assess the regulation's performance in the future and establish provisions for doing so?
The RIA discusses the fees for producing passports and the department's obligation to pay costs associated with border security. To whatever degree these two accounts can be compared, the performance could be tracked. However, this is not made explicit.
1/5
 
Total 13 / 60