APWU Member April Burger is 2017 Passport Acceptance Agent of the Year
(This article first appeared in the March-April 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
April Burger, a 31-year member of the Jefferson City Local (MO) and the local’s secretary-treasurer, was unanimously chosen as 2017 Acceptance Agent of the Year for the Department of State’s (DOS) National Awards Program for Passport Acceptance Facilities and Agents. She was honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29.
Burger handles the administrative responsibilities of the Jefferson City Main Post Ofﬁce’s passport acceptance program. She manages information resources, plans passport fairs, and operates and maintains photography equipment and supplies.
Burger said many people visit the post ofﬁce for their passport needs because it’s more cost-effective. “They know when you go to the post ofﬁce, you go to a trusted, public institution and you know things are going to be handled correctly,” she explained.
Demand is Increasing
“Sometimes you don’t have enough help,” she noted.
Part of the problem is the Postal Service currently does not have a formal position description for a Passport Clerk. The APWU has ﬁled a national dispute requesting the creation of a Passport Clerk standard position and qualiﬁcation standard.
Burger talked about the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, launched in 2007, which required travelers to use a passport every time they crossed the border between the U.S. and Canada or Mexico. Those passports are now beginning to expire, leading to an inﬂux of renewal applications.
“The Department of State has been telling us…that this is coming, but it fell on deaf ears at the post ofﬁce,” Burger said. “Our business is booming…This is the time to invest.”
Burger discussed how the need for a passport is more prevalent today than ever for other reasons. More and more colleges offer study abroad programs, and there are Americans who prefer to have a passport as another form of identiﬁcation.
“It’s expanding, people are becoming global. [The demand is] not going away,” Burger said.
‘Like A Swiss Army Knife’
At the awards ceremony, Department of State ofﬁcials had nothing but praise for Burger.
“Like a Swiss Army knife, she does it all,” Brenda Sprague, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Passport Services, said. “Her passion knows no bounds. It’s comforting to know such a dedicated and enthusiastic person is working full-time as a passport acceptance agent and handles all the details it entails.”
Karen Christensen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Overseas Citizens Services at the DOS, said that the work Burger does is, “public service at its best. Every day, you come to work and don’t just do the job – you think of ways to do it better.”