A process is said to be “fast tracked” when steps are taken to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete. For example, when a United States citizen expedites a passport application by paying an additional fee, it means that the application is fast tracked, and will move more quickly through the State Department's system to ensure that it gets to the citizen more quickly. The practice of fast tracking in some industries is criticized, because it is feared that fast tracking may lead to insufficient background and safety checks, which could potentially be a source of problems at a later date. Many consumers and companies, however, appreciate fast tracking, especially in the business world.
Fast tracking is usually offered as a convenience to an individual or company which requires a particular service. Usually, an fee must be paid in order for the service to be fast tracked, to compensate the agency providing the service for the extra work. In the case of an application, fast tracking does not necessarily mean that the application will be accepted, only that it will be processed more quickly than is normal. This can be extremely important in the case of fast tracked applications for citizenship, medical benefits, and other time sensitive issues.
To successfully fast track something, the providing agency and the applicant must work together. The applicant must make sure that all supporting materials are in order and that all of the parts of the application meet the needs of the agency. For example, a high school student who is trying to get a college application fast tracked must make sure that all relevant letters of support, test scores, transcripts, and essays are in order in a neat package. If the application is not complete, the providing agency cannot guarantee that it will be fast tracked successfully, because officials will have to request missing materials.
Frequently applications for new drugs, construction projects, patents, or businesses are fast tracked. Many governments encourage this practice, because it supports entrepreneurship and development. However, the fast tracking agency must be able to work carefully as well as quickly, to make sure that expensive or lethal mistakes are not made. This is especially important with fast tracked drug applications, because in the rush to bring, for example, a new cancer drug to the market, the regulating agency does not want to inadvertently release a potentially hazardous drug which may need to be recalled.