Delay keeps Customs funding in question
- By Judi Hasson
- Jun 09, 2000
The U.S. Customs Service will have to play the waiting game regarding whether
it will receive money in the fiscal 2001 budget for its $1.5 billion modernization
program and funds to keep its current system operating.
A House Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday postponed once again its
session on deciding how much money will be in the appropriations bill for
the Treasury Department and related agencies.
Staff aides said the delay had nothing to do with the modernization project
or where to find the money to pay for it.
However, any delay adds uncertainty about whether the money will be available
for the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system to replace the 17-year-old
Automated Commercial System (ACS) that is constantly strained by work overloads.
Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Treasury, Postal Service and General
Government Subcommittee, said the project is his highest priority.
"We're going to make sure we have sufficient funds in order to make a major
move forward on ACE. It won't be everything we want to have, but it's more
than keeping a finger in the dike," he said in a telephone interview.
Importers have complained that frequent brownouts and blackouts in the system
slow the processing of goods coming across U.S. borders at 300 points. Although
everyone is in agreement that a new system is needed, no one is sure where
to find the money to pay for keeping the old system from dying while the
new system is built during a five-year period.