Customs' Allen Says Funding Needed to Expand ACE

Customs' Allen Says Funding Needed to Expand ACE

Customs and Border Protection has $140 million to operate and maintain a commercial trade processing system, but there’s no money in the 2012 budget to further develop the program, said Cynthia Allen, executive director of the Automated Commercial Environment.

Customs has some carryover funds from previous budget years that will be applied to new projects, Allen told members of Customs’ advisory committee on commercial operations on Tuesday. But in the absence of new development funds, the ACE office will work on concepts that can be developed later.

The newest pieces of ACE, ocean and rail manifest systems, completed their pilot testing this month, Allen said. They could be offered to Customs executives for final acceptance by September, Allen said. That means that the two manifest systems now operating on the older Automated Commercial Systems could be switched off permanently.

Allen said that the president’s 2013 budget proposal also calls for $140 million for ACE operation and maintenance.

The lack of development money, particularly for the simplified entry process, caused concern among COAC members. Simplified entry is something that Customs and the trade community are looking for to further automate import processing and lower transaction costs.

George Weise a COAC member, who was commissioner during the Clinton administration, noted that it has been nearly 20 years since Congress authorized the ACE system in the 1993 Customs modernization act.

“We can’t have simplified entry without ACE,” Weise said. “We need a sense of urgency – we’ve got to get it done.”

Contact R.G. Edmonson at Follow him on Twitter @BobinWash.