Importers and customs brokers should be very concerned about the loss of the field national import specialists (''Customs to shift specialists'' by Bill Mongelluzzo, JoC Week, August 28-September 2). Not only is their expertise going to be lost, but Customs intends to erode the expertise of all import specialists nationwide.

In July of this year, import specialists were notified by headquarters that they considered field import specialists ''over specialized''. Only team leaders should be commodity experts. Other import specialists currently trained to answer complex trade issues were advised they only need to ''answer the phones'' and ''process work.'' No longer were they to spend time researching answers to questions. Further, Customs intends to transfer the field national import specialists to administrative jobs in the ports and hire and train other employees in New York to do the same work. Customs currently has about 300 teams with 1,100 import specialists. These numbers will decline. Customs intends to make fewer and larger teams. They do not intend to fill many jobs when the import specialists leave or retire. Customs will be left with less than 250 employees in the field to answer questions about the hundreds of trade programs Customs administers.

Many of them will be held accountable for large portions of the tariff programs and the numerous trade programs associated with it. It is easy to see how this will not maintain the quality service or expertise provided to the trade, public or other agencies that depend on information from Customs.

Now, does this sound like ''good government'' to you?

Donna Hart


National Treasury Employees' Union, Chapter 136


I was so amazed by the letter 'Remembering the Katie,' by Vice Adm. James B. Perkins III, USN (Ret.), that ran in JoC Week's September 18-24 edition. I read it over and over again - at least a dozen times in an attempt to correlate Mr. Perkins' words with his own actions. Mr. Perkins forgets that during his tenure as the commander of U.S. Military Sealiff Command, every solicitation for U.S. military cargo movements contained the phrase 'U.S. or foreign-flag vessel.' Like his successor and predecessors, Mr. Perkins talks about supporting the U.S. flag, but then allowed his command to subvert the U.S. flag at every opportunity by shipping military goods on foreign-flag ships. This was and is no isolated incident; this continues to occur on a daily basis.

Perhaps, as he says, the 'U.S. offshore merchant fleet would not have declined nearly 50 percent since 1981' if while under Mr. Perkins' command, MSC had not permitted military cargo to be shipped on foreign-flag vessels with such frequency. If you want to support the U.S.-flag fleet, you do not solicit foreign vessels to carry U.S. military cargo.

If Mr. Perkins' successor at MSC continues to move U.S. military cargo on foreign-flag vessels, it is just a matter of time before the U.S. government is forced to deal with its own Katie spectacle.

Ivan Irkenkoff

Former employee

U.S. Military Sealift Command

Washington, D.C.


In an article titled 'Competition goes global' (JoC Week, October 2-8), the headquarters of Global Freight Exchange was incorrectly stated. The company is based in London.