Do you need a new or renewed passport? (Remember: your passport must be valid for at least six months AFTER your return from abroad.) Get one now! You can start at the State Department's passport application website. You can also look up the passport office nearest you.
Need your passport in a hurry? You can read through the State Department's list of services available based on need. You can also consider using a private service that specializing in expedited passports, though this could set you back an additional $60-$400 on top of the passport application fees. Services like Fedex "Rush My Passport" and Allstate Passports handle the work for you, to get you your passport sooner. (Though we should note we have not personally used these services and cannot personally vouch for them.)
When we got our passports renewed, we went to our local post office and it was a one-stop shop: we got our photos taken, filled out our applications, paid the fee, and paid to have them expedited. We also paid for rush shipping to and from the State Department. And, good news: USPS tracking says they arrive today!
Don't leave it to chance or luck, or hoping that the State Department's speed improves--get yours renewed now!