|10NEWDELHI264||2010-02-09 11:14:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy New Delhi|
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1. Summary: American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit Chiefs and Senior
Locally Engaged Staff (LES) from all India posts convened in New
Delhi January 20-22, 2010 for a Mission-wide ACS conference - the
first of its type in institutional memory. The goals of this
conference were to promote consistency between posts, share
resources, expand outreach, coordinate crisis management efforts,
and discuss how to tackle growing challenges in India. End
2. ACS work is now demanding greater attention: The overall number
of Americans traveling to India has doubled since 2003, and with
this, there is a substantial rise in child abduction cases,
surrogacy cases, arrests and extradition cases. At the India ACS
Conference, participants laid the groundwork for a Mission-wide ACS
strategic plan, and discussed how best to capitalize on existing
resources at each post. The ACS units are studying the resources
required to address successfully this increasing need, and to
maintain and improve the Mission's crisis preparedness and warden
system in these vast consular districts, where a prison visit can
easily require three days out of the office.
3. The greatest outcome of this conference was linking colleagues,
including ACS LES with 10+ years of experience who had never met
their counterparts from other posts. Different posts volunteered to
act as the lead on outreach efforts, the warden program,
standardizing crisis management materials, assistance to victims of
crime, and compilation of resources needed to meet the mission-wide
Challenges Facing India's ACS Units
4. During this conference, participants discussed challenges facing
the ACS sections in India, including crisis management, surrogacy,
International Parental Child Abductions (IPCA), assistance to
victims of crime, and working with the mentally ill. A
representative from Consular Affairs and local specialists
participated in many of the sessions and offered guidance in their
areas of expertise.
5. Crisis Management discussions included lessons learned during the
Mumbai attacks from both the Mumbai and Department perspectives.
Participants also tested out the "fly-away kit" equipment which
would be used in a natural disaster or situation when standard
communication systems fail or are unavailable. Information
Management staff anticipate all India posts will have complete
fly-away kits this year, to include satellite phones, B-GAN
satellite modem, and portable scanners and printers.
6. The great potential for fraud in CRBA cases involving surrogacy
is a continuing concern. Mission India would like to implement a
DNA testing requirement for all CRBA applications involving
surrogacy, and is awaiting Consular Affairs guidance on this matter.
(See REFTEL.) ACS Units also discussed apprehension about local
notaries, many of whom do not require a person to be present when
notarizing documents. This is of particular concern regarding
signatures of consent to issue passports to minors.
7. The ACS Chiefs now have weekly conference calls, and new
Mission-wide ACS email groups facilitate coordination of programs as
well as assistance to travelers moving between consular districts.
All posts have started using a customized call tracking system to
determine the types of calls and emails being received, to measure
better the need for and allocation of resources.
8. Appointments: To reduce wait times and help ensure that American
citizens receive prompt, efficient service, all posts in Mission
India will implement an online appointment system by March 1, 2010
for routine citizen services. Posts are coordinating their
implementations and changes to their websites. Mission India will
provide a unified message for the press release and websites to
announce the new appointment system. In a longer-term goal, the
messages portrayed throughout the ACS websites will be coordinated
9. Outreach: Mission India is determined to promote registration of
Americans living in and traveling to India. Newly-designed
bookmarks with registration details and contact information for the
posts in India will soon be available to American travelers to
India. One of the two U.S. airlines with direct flights to India
has already agreed to distribute these bookmarks at check-in, and if
the program shows an increase in registrations, it will be carried
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over to other airlines as well.
10. India's ACS units look forward to greater collaboration with
each other and others in the region and are committed to
strengthening the communication with the rest of Mission India and
the Department. Mission India thanks CA/Overseas Citizens Services
for its support of and involvement in this conference.