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Department of State’s Consular Systems and Technology: A Track Record of Innovation

The Office of Consular Systems and Technology (CST) leads the State Department‘s IT efforts.  This is an amazing organization that has been delivering high quality, high throughput systems and solutions for years. This group really is our first line of defense against threat actors so we should all be thankful the team here performs at this level.

Don’t just take our word for it.  Consider the incredible amount of recognition this small team has been generating. There is a huge list of awards for their innovative and effective service.

In 2009, CST won two Excellence.Gov Awards from the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) for the Passport Card/Border Crossing Card project to create two enhanced, card-sized identification documents for American and Mexican nationals to improve border security, and for the the  Travel.State.Gov (TSG) website, which presents users with foreign  travel and safety information and provides several mobile,  interactive means to access consular information. The awards were for transparency, using IT to help the flow of information between the government and the public. Kirit Amin, CIO of the Bureau of Consular Affairs and Director for the Office of Consular Systems and Technology, also recieved two awards, an Outstanding Achievement Award for innovation from the AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association) and a Government Computer News award for innovation, excellence, and service in his work on the Passport Card/Border Crossing Card project.

In 2010, the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD), a unified database of all biometric and biographical information for passport and visa applicants that simplified access to critical national security information, was presented with the Excellence.Gov award. CST also recieved an award from the Government Information Technology Executive Council for the Consular Affairs Virtual Environment (CAVE). CAVE was selected for excellent project management, virtualization, and cloud computing.

In 2011, CST was lauded by numerous organizations across multiple categories. It won another GITEC award, this time for Project Management Excellence in the Department of State’s Green IT Initiative. CST recieved two nominations and one Excellence.Gov award, again for its Green IT Initiative, and also for it’s Biometric/Facial Recognition System, the largest and most successful facial recognition system deployed in the world with over 134 million searchable faces in its database, and the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC), which allows users worldwide to complete and submit application forms, make payments, attach documents and photos, and check the status of their application online. CST once again won a Government Computer News award for “Outstanding Information Technology Achievement in Government” and another AFCEA Outstanding Achievement Award, this time for data sharing, for the Consular Consolidated Database. The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM)-compliant Enterprise Service Oriented Migration Program won a Best of NIEM award for dedication, commitment, and achievement in efficiency. This year, CST also won two awards from the Association For Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM), a Leadership Award in Service Excellence for the CEAC team and a Leadership Award in Service of the Country to Kirit Amin.

CST has earned these accolades by exemplifying the best of information technology’s potential, making our borders and nation more secure while at the same time increasing efficiency and transparency as well as driving innovation.


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Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of CTOvision.com

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