Customs and Border Protection’s advanced computer system for processing documentation is taking longer to develop and will cost more than anticipated, but completing development of the Automated Commercial Environment remains one of the agency’s top priorities.
“I can understand your frustration with ACE,” Thomas Winkowski, assistant commissioner of CBP, told Wesccon, the annual cargo conference of West Coast freight forwarders and customs brokers.
The federal government in the past saw significant problems developing computer systems for the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Defense, but ACE will not meet the same fate as those troubled efforts. “ACE won’t be scrapped. There’s strong support for it on the Hill,” Winkowski told the Wesccon gathering in Rancho Mirage, Calif., over the weekend.
Congress in the 1993 Customs Modernization Act authorized an overhaul of the system importers and exporters use to file documentation with Customs. Work began on the $1.4 billion computer system in 2002. CBP has been slowly rolling out ACE modules, but the system handles only a fraction of importer transactions.
A.N. Deringer, a high-volume customs broker on the northern border, was an early adopter of ACE. Deringer continues to step up its efforts to use ACE. “Every week I tell my folks, you will push more through ACE,” said Amy Magnus, district manager in Champlain, N.Y.
Nevertheless, Magnus understands why brokers and importers, especially those that handle lower volumes of cargo, are not jumping on the ACE bandwagon. “There are very few benefits so far,” she said.
CBP continues to handle most transmissions through its legacy Automated Commercial System.
Dan Meylor, customs administration manager at Carmichael International Service in Los Angeles, said most brokers have to choose one system or the other. “We can’t afford to run two systems,” he said.
CBP next year will enhance ACE’s capabilities by processing most entry summary documents in the new system, and this development is expected to result in a significant increase in ACE usage by the trade community.
Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at firstname.lastname@example.org.