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While the State Department’s regular mail service takes weeks to complete, and expedited services require a high government fee, a visit to a A1 visas  office can be your fastest option. But if the idea of waiting in long lines for hours or redialing a toll-free number for a pre-recorded message has you sweating your head, consider this alternative: a private passport expediting company.

How do I make an appointment for a passport in NYC?

A few months ago, I had lunch with a management consultant who gushed about his experience at the Hudson Street Passport Agency in lower Manhattan. He’d been there for an expedited appointment that day because he had to leave on a trip tomorrow. When he arrived at his scheduled time, he had to wait just five minutes before a greeter checked his paperwork and gave him a number for the waiting room.

Then, he went to his assigned window and had his passport photos taken. He filled out a form in front of a clerk, paid the required fees and got his passport back within four days, just as he had been promised.

That’s the kind of success story that’s not often heard about a federal bureaucracy, and it resonates with a study recently released by two University College London economists. Their research suggests that autonomy, in other words, the amount of freedom a project manager has to act independently of higher-ups, is one of the best predictors of whether a government department will do its job well.

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