REBUILDING

CAROL BOYD HALLET, the new commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service, has a rebuilding job ahead of her. Her initial address as customs commissioner last week suggests that Ms. Hallett understands the task she faces.

Ms. Hallett's comments to the Foreign Trade Association of Southern California emphasized her determination to make sure that the Customs Service's commercial operations are running smoothly. That would hardly be news, were it not for the habit of her predecessor, William von Raab, to neglect the service's traditional tasks, processing imports and collecting duties, in favor of higher-profile tasks like fighting drug smuggling.Most welcome of all is her promise not to demand new advances in electronic processing of imports in the coming year. The Customs Service has forced often-reluctant importers and customs brokers to switch from paper forms for electronic messages, but its own computer systems haven't always been up to the task of dealing with its customers. A pause to get things working right is in everyone's interest.

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