Customs wants funds for import system

The Clinton administration's proposal to fund a new computer system for the Customs Service through a user fee met stiff opposition yesterday in the Senate, but members agreed that the system still must be funded.

The Customs Service wants $1.4 billion for its Automated Commercial Environment to speed up cargo clearance and examination procedures for the $1 trillion worth of imports coming into the United States every year. Customs has been using a prototype of the ACE system at select ports and now wants to roll it out nationwide over the next four years.

Customs uses the older Automated Commercial System to collect data from importers about what they are bringing across the border. The data is used to assess whether the shipments need to be inspected and to collect tariffs. In most cases, this information is filed when, or shortly before, goods enter the country. Last year, ACS processed 19 million trade entries—10 percent more than the previous year.

"We clearly need a new system," Raymond Kelly, commissioner of Customs, told the Senate Finance Committee. ACE would replace Customs' 16-year-old ACS.The proposed increase in the current user fee would raise money during fiscal 2000, and Customs could use that money to begin rolling out ACE in fiscal 2001.

But Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee looked unfavorably on the proposed increase in the user fee. "It is clear Congress is not going to adopt this fee," Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) said.

However, Gramm and other senators agreed with Kelly that it is time to replace Customs' old system. The funds might have to be taken from another information technology program, Gramm suggested. "We're talking about a relatively small amount of money," he said. "We just need to find a way to come up with this money."

Featured

  • Defense
    Soldiers from the Old Guard test the second iteration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) capability set during an exercise at Fort Belvoir, VA in Fall 2019. Photo by Courtney Bacon

    IVAS and the future of defense acquisition

    The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System has been in the works for years, but the potentially multibillion deal could mark a paradigm shift in how the Defense Department buys and leverages technology.

  • Cybersecurity
    Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lora Ratliff)

    Mayorkas announces cyber 'sprints' on ransomware, ICS, workforce

    The Homeland Security secretary announced a series of focused efforts to address issues around ransomware, critical infrastructure and the agency's workforce that will all be launched in the coming weeks.

Stay Connected