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Passport outrage: Official who caused the crisis set to be promoted
Townhall.com ^ | June28, 2007 | Joel Mowbray

Posted on 06/28/2007 4:26:11 AM PDT by Kaslin

During a contentious Senate hearing last week, State Department consular chief Maura Harty took personal responsibility for the backlog of two million passport applications—leading to wait times of 12 weeks or more—that has wreaked havoc on honeymoons, family getaways, and business trips.

She was hailed by many for her contrite performance. Unfortunately, though Harty was apologetic, she was not entirely honest. Not only that, the Senate did not learn the full extent of her personal culpability in creating the passport mess with a series of blunders.

And on the heels of creating a backlog of two million passport applications and then misleading Congress about it, Harty is poised for a promotion. Unless the White House acts to stop it, Harty could soon ascend to one of the top positions at the State Department.

How the crisis really happened

The State Department’s public line is that the new rules requiring passports for most Western Hemisphere air travel caused a surge in applications, and Harty’s office relied on a private consulting firm’s estimate of 16.2 million passport applications this year—a number that proved too low by roughly 1.5 million.

The reality, however, is that following the private consulting study, provided by BearingPoint, would have lead to slightly overestimating the number of passport seekers.

When questioned at the hearing about how she could have missed the mark so badly, Harty tried to shift the blame, responding, “[W]e predicted 16.2 million based on our study with BearingPoint.”

The BearingPoint study, however, did not produce the 16.2 million figure; Harty and her staff did. The results of the report, in fact, would have lead to a calculation of approximately 18 million applications this fiscal year—just slightly over the number expected to be filed.

State’s and DHS’s interpretation of the BearingPoint study—which estimated only the number of people who would apply for a passport to comply with the new travel rules—was that 4.1 million travelers would do so in the first year. That figure would only result in a total of 16.2 million if the number of people seeking passports would otherwise stay flat from last year. But that would ignore entirely recent history.

Since 2003, passports have been a growth business, with applications rising by an average of 18% annually between that year and 2006. And that 18% yearly increase was before the implementation this January of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

Simple math dictated that far more than 16.2 million would apply for a passport this year. Adding 18% growth over the 12.1 million passports issued in fiscal year 2006 to the 4.1 million figure results in a total of just over 18 million. (BearingPoint was willing to release its study, but a spokesman said the company contractually needed State’s permission to do so. State refused to release the report before publication of this column.)

How Harty made matters much, much worse

But even then, if Harty’s office had only committed the sin of a bad prediction, the mess never would have become a full-blown crisis.

Converting what would have been a short-term logjam into a yearlong nightmare were several factors: 1) Harty staffed at the low end of what would be necessary to process her tragically low projection of 16.2 million applications, 2) she had no contingency plans, and 3) she inexplicably refused to react when it became clear that she had woefully underestimated.

Rather than err on the side of caution on staffing, Harty hired the bare minimum to deal with the number of passport applications she expected this year, 16.2 million. Aggravating matters, Harty apparently lacked meaningful contingency plans. No blueprint was in place, for example, to ramp up staffing if needed.

There was already a glaring need for additional staffing late last year.

As early as last November, applications were coming in at a much higher rate than her office expected, receiving 250,000 more than projected for that month alone. This January, Consular Affairs received 1.8 million applications, or 600,000 more than expected.

By her own admission, this flood of applications did not convince Harty to change course. She thought it was a blip.

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Harty waited until this March—nearly five months after it became apparent that her estimate was astonishingly insufficient—to hire more staff than originally planned for processing passports.

Harty had every reason to err on the side of caution. The price of underestimating applications and then going into crisis mode has been extremely high. Passport centers have been working nights and weekends, State has brought back retirees, and call center capacity has had to expand exponentially. Not only would more staffers up front been much less expensive, but they would have been needed for years to come. According to Harty’s testimony, 23 million applications are projected for next year, and the number could hit 30 million by 2010.

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.


TOPICS: Editorial; Extended News; Government; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: harty; maura; mauraharty; passports; peterprinciple; statedept
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1 posted on 06/28/2007 4:26:12 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

F up and move up.


2 posted on 06/28/2007 4:28:46 AM PDT by leadpenny
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To: Kaslin

~snip~

Converting what would have been a short-term logjam into a yearlong nightmare were several factors: 1) Harty staffed at the low end of what would be necessary to process her tragically low projection of 16.2 million applications, 2) she had no contingency plans, and 3) she inexplicably refused to react when it became clear that she had woefully underestimated.

~snip~

Competence and accountability in government ?? pppffttt..


3 posted on 06/28/2007 4:29:37 AM PDT by SE Mom (Proud mom of an Iraq war combat vet -Fred'08)
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To: Kaslin

What is the modern name for inefficiency???

Government.


4 posted on 06/28/2007 4:33:57 AM PDT by Paulus
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To: JohnHuang2

ping


5 posted on 06/28/2007 4:33:58 AM PDT by Christian4Bush ("Polls are for strippers and liberals." Caller to Rush, 6/5/2007)
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To: Kaslin

Yo!
Hello?
This ain’t no screwup.
They WANTED a backlog!
they needed this mess.
It’s all a parcel of the border/immigration mess. Their only solution for which is a “COMPREHENSIVE” ONE.
See?


6 posted on 06/28/2007 4:40:38 AM PDT by Flintlock
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To: Kaslin

Under the title of: “You just can’t make this stuff up”

DHS’s Citizenship and Immigration Department is advertising for a new Public Affairs person. I guess the problem is that because of this gap, they haven’t been able to spin their incompetence as opposed to FIXING THE DAMNED PROBLEMS! :>)

Here’s the link: http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/getjob.asp?JobID=58969439&AVSDM=2007%2D06%2D21+00%3A00%3A05&Logo=0&q=public+affairs&FedEmp=Y&sort=rv&vw=d&brd=3876&ss=0&FedPub=Y&SUBMIT1.x=72&SUBMIT1.y=15


7 posted on 06/28/2007 4:46:49 AM PDT by PurpleMan
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To: Kaslin
Reality: 15 million lawful Americans apply for passports, there is a 12-week backlog.

Fantasy:12 million (yeah, right) "undocumented" illegal aliens will apply for Z-Visas and be processed in just 1 day.

8 posted on 06/28/2007 4:50:55 AM PDT by Nomorjer Kinov (If the opposite of "pro" is "con" , what is the opposite of progress?)
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To: Kaslin
  • Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty, testifies on Capitol Hill in

    Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2007, before the Senate Foreign Relations hearing to examine the passport backlog, and the State Department's response to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)AP via Yahoo! News - Jun 19 1:56 PM

  • Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty, testifies on Capitol Hill in

    Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2007, before the Senate Foreign Relations hearing to examine the passport backlog, and the State Department's response to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)AP via Yahoo! News - Jun 19 1:49 PM

  • Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty, testifies on Capitol Hill in

    Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2007, before the Senate Foreign Relations hearing to examine the passport backlog, and the State Department's response to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)AP via Yahoo! News - Jun 19 1:49 PM

  • Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty, testifies on Capitol Hill in

    Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2007, before the Senate Foreign Relations hearing to examine the passport backlog, and the State Department's response to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)AP via Yahoo! News - Jun 19 1:49 PM


9 posted on 06/28/2007 4:53:58 AM PDT by dennisw
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To: dennisw
Ambassador Maura Harty Visits Bogota

Ambassador Maura Harty

10 posted on 06/28/2007 4:54:59 AM PDT by dennisw
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To: Flintlock

I’m quite certain that they are very happy with the backlog. I just applied for my passport on Monday, and at the time of application, you have an opportunity to pay $60 extra to expedite your application. You are also encouraged to pay overnight delivery in each direction. If they can convince everyone that there’s so much uncertainty about when the passport will arrive unless you pay the extra fee, then nearly everyone will pay the extra $60, as I did.

If they get 1,000,000 people to pay the extra $60, they can have a big pizza party at State. If they get 10,000,000 people to pay the extra $60, well...you get the point. That’s why she’s being promoted - she has been VERY good for the bottom line.


11 posted on 06/28/2007 4:56:27 AM PDT by RightFighter
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To: dennisw

She has a certain look about her....I just can’t place it....what is it that my brain is trying to tell me about her?....someone help me out here.


12 posted on 06/28/2007 4:59:29 AM PDT by RightFighter
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To: Kaslin; Freee-dame

Coincidence is when God wants to remain anonymous.

Maura Harty’s poor decision making comes at the best possible time to illustrate to all what will happen if the current Immigration “reform” act is passed.

The State Dept has been in the passport business for hundreds of years. There is a track record of passports issued, and there are statistics for international travel of Americans.

How many passports will be requested at any given time should not be a mystery. When the State Dept cannot get this right, how do we have confidence in their handling of other duties -—

such as granting visas to Saudi students, for example.


13 posted on 06/28/2007 5:00:03 AM PDT by maica (America will be a hyperpower that's all hype and no power -- if we do not prevail in Iraq)
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To: RightFighter

LOL!


14 posted on 06/28/2007 5:01:20 AM PDT by maica (America will be a hyperpower that's all hype and no power -- if we do not prevail in Iraq)
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To: Kaslin

In the government, promoting people to get rid of them is an institution.

If you have someone in the office that is so bad you simply have to get rid of them, its much easier to promote them and send them somewhere else than to fire them. So, thats the way its done.


15 posted on 06/28/2007 5:01:25 AM PDT by sgtbono2002 (http://www.imwithfred.com/index.aspx)
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To: sgtbono2002

See my post 11 for the real story about why she’s being promoted.


16 posted on 06/28/2007 5:03:01 AM PDT by RightFighter
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To: Kaslin

This is the part that P’s me off the most.

As natural born Americans, we now need some government approval/tracking device to come and go into OUR country.

But hey, if you name is Pedro or Juan or whatever then just do whatever you want and we’ll look the other way.

Homeland security is a JOKE! So is the Federal department of immigration and naturalization!

Let the States handle it. It’s obviously beyond the Fed’s ability. They’re just too far from the peasants. Like being ruled by a King 3,000 miles away... Like that never happened before...


17 posted on 06/28/2007 5:03:30 AM PDT by djf (Bush's legacy: Way more worried about Iraqs borders than our own!!! A once great nation... sad...)
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To: RightFighter
Maura Harty looks like Barbra Mikulskis long lost daughter

 

Ambassador Maura Harty Visits Bogota

Ambassador Maura Harty

Mikulski


18 posted on 06/28/2007 5:07:04 AM PDT by dennisw
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To: Kaslin

Breaking the rule: Being promoted PAST your level of incompetence.


19 posted on 06/28/2007 5:07:45 AM PDT by bannie (Is the amnesty bill the REASON our Founding Fathers insured our RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS?)
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To: RightFighter

There is legislation to get your $60 refunded


20 posted on 06/28/2007 5:08:27 AM PDT by dennisw
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To: Kaslin

Way to go, Foggy Bottom.


21 posted on 06/28/2007 5:08:33 AM PDT by mewzilla (Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. John Adams)
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To: Kaslin

Lead led whatever....


22 posted on 06/28/2007 5:08:56 AM PDT by Theo (Global warming "scientists." Pro-evolution "scientists." They're both wrong.)
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To: Kaslin
The Peter Principle is alive and well even in a Republican Administration.

I say fire everyone in the State Department who has been there over six years!

23 posted on 06/28/2007 5:10:38 AM PDT by Bender2 (A 'Good Yankee' comes down to Texas, then goes back north. A 'Damn Yankee' stays... Damn it!)
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To: Kaslin

I have a close friend who sent in for her renewal four months ago. She leaves for Europe in two weeks. It isn’t back. How dumb can the government get? Require passports for countries that tons of Americans go to but that never required passports before and not hire adequate cover? On top of that promote this idiot. He should be fired. He has caused aggrivation or worse for at least hundreds of thousands of Americans.


24 posted on 06/28/2007 5:15:05 AM PDT by SmoothTalker
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To: SmoothTalker

Er he.


25 posted on 06/28/2007 5:15:25 AM PDT by SmoothTalker
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To: SmoothTalker

I keep mistyping. She.


26 posted on 06/28/2007 5:15:37 AM PDT by SmoothTalker
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To: Kaslin

Typical.....


27 posted on 06/28/2007 5:16:35 AM PDT by mad_as_he$$ (We stand on the bridge and no one may pass. We go into the dark places....)
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To: RightFighter
I'll help you out, LOL. That "certain look" you can't place is undoubtedly that of a career vacant-head liberal firmly embedded in government bureaucracy.

She's the perfect illustration for number 24 of Rush Limbaugh's "List of Thirty-Five Undeniable Truths" about the Left":

"Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society."

Leni

28 posted on 06/28/2007 5:20:49 AM PDT by MinuteGal (Three Cheers for the FRed, White and Blue !)
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To: RightFighter
...That’s why she’s being promoted - she has been VERY good for the bottom line...

Bingo! We have a winnah!

29 posted on 06/28/2007 5:21:50 AM PDT by FReepaholic (If Cho had a nuclear weapon instead of guns, would he have used it?)
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To: leadpenny
F up and move up.

My tagline is appropriate. Blackbird.

30 posted on 06/28/2007 5:22:52 AM PDT by BlackbirdSST (We stirred the melting pot (America), and incompetence floated to the top!)
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Maura Harty may be in charge of our ‘free’ health insurance soon ?


31 posted on 06/28/2007 5:23:08 AM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: maica
Coincidence is when God wants to remain anonymous.

Maura Harty’s poor decision making comes at the best possible time to illustrate to all what will happen if the current Immigration “reform” act is passed.

The Harty Factor. I like it.

Good reminder that, even in incompetence, we can be tools for good. And Lord knows, Maura Harty is a tool.

32 posted on 06/28/2007 5:27:21 AM PDT by Eroteme
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To: Nomorjer Kinov

LOL, that is so true. A background check and application processed in 24 hours? Uh, what country did you say you come from? El Salvador? Uh, how long would it take for our government to request your records from your government? What? There is no records department? Well then, do you have a SSN? Tax ID? OK, how about a friend from El Salvador that will vouch for you as a good person? Oh, great then. That will do. Here’s your Z-VISA. Now, give me a quarter pounder meal with a chocolate shake please.


33 posted on 06/28/2007 5:27:56 AM PDT by Sender (Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose.)
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To: SmoothTalker; RightFighter
I keep mistyping. She.

He? She? I think the jury is still out. Blackbird.

34 posted on 06/28/2007 5:28:25 AM PDT by BlackbirdSST (We stirred the melting pot (America), and incompetence floated to the top!)
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To: RightFighter

Yes I saw that. Isnt it a damned shame that you can send 60 bucks to the government and get the service that you should be entitled to for nothing?

How many people are waiting patiently for their passports while they express the people who sent them their bribe?

IMO it should be illegal to even ask for this Mordida.


35 posted on 06/28/2007 5:32:03 AM PDT by sgtbono2002 (http://www.imwithfred.com/index.aspx)
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To: SE Mom

She was working way above her pay grade which should have been about GS 03.


36 posted on 06/28/2007 5:32:22 AM PDT by Lion Den Dan
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To: leadpenny

“F up and move up.”

Exactly the way it happened at the State Department with the incompetent employee who approved some of the 9/11 terrorists’ VISA applications. She received a bonus!


37 posted on 06/28/2007 5:34:35 AM PDT by Thank You Rush
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To: SE Mom

And they want these folks running our HEALTH CARE SYSTEM????


38 posted on 06/28/2007 5:38:41 AM PDT by SubMareener (Become a monthly donor! Free FreeRepublic.com from Quarterly FReepathons!)
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To: Eroteme

The Harty Factor. I like it.

#####

If it wasn’t so serious, we could call it the Harty-har-har Factor.


39 posted on 06/28/2007 5:42:37 AM PDT by maica (America will be a hyperpower that's all hype and no power -- if we do not prevail in Iraq)
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To: RightFighter

Yup, she sure does look like she has certain . . . uhh . . . preferences.

Yeah that’s it - preferences.


40 posted on 06/28/2007 5:52:06 AM PDT by savedbygrace (SECURE THE BORDERS FIRST (I'M YELLING ON PURPOSE))
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To: Flintlock

And if the background checks on 12-20 million illegal aliens can’t be handled in 24 hours they all get automatically approved. Hmmmm.


41 posted on 06/28/2007 5:57:14 AM PDT by Glenmore
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To: MinuteGal

I think socialism requires (in most cases) women not to wear make-up. Make-up can do wonders....most of the time. But you have to know how to put it on too.


42 posted on 06/28/2007 5:58:58 AM PDT by Not just another dumb blonde
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To: Kaslin

The library where I work processes passports, and we’ve had our share of angry and distraught applicants over the past few weeks.


43 posted on 06/28/2007 6:03:26 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: SmoothTalker

Oh sure, pretend you did it by mistake.


44 posted on 06/28/2007 6:05:12 AM PDT by CharlesWayneCT
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To: SmoothTalker

I am still waiting on certified copies of my kid’s birth certificates and told the wait is 4-6 weeks unless I come in person and then I hand in the application and come back the next day in Dayton, OH, but I don’t live in OH!


45 posted on 06/28/2007 6:06:12 AM PDT by PhiKapMom ( Inhofe for Senate 08 -- Broken Glass Republican -- vote out the RATs in 2008)
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To: RightFighter
Ditto. LOL.

Looking at her I'd guessed her name was Pat.

*wink*wink

46 posted on 06/28/2007 6:12:14 AM PDT by Lurking in Kansas (Nothing witty here...)
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To: MinuteGal
She's the perfect illustration for number 24 of Rush Limbaugh's "List of Thirty-Five Undeniable Truths"...

Wait, you said she? You mean this official is a she?? I thought that was a picture of an effeminate looking guy....

47 posted on 06/28/2007 6:16:45 AM PDT by Lurking in Kansas (Nothing witty here...)
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To: RightFighter

She looks...er...Lebanese. Yeah, Lebanese. Riiiight. hehe


48 posted on 06/28/2007 6:21:28 AM PDT by Surtur (Free Trade is NOT Fair Trade unless both economies are equivalent.)
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To: sgtbono2002

The Peter Principle in action. The hard workers stay where they are, and the incompetent boobs climb to the top.


49 posted on 06/28/2007 6:27:12 AM PDT by Polyxene (For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel - Martin Luther)
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To: RightFighter
Are you sayin' she might just be from that big island NW of Izmir?


50 posted on 06/28/2007 6:36:38 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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