Customs primed for contractor
- By Judi Hasson
- Nov 30, 2000
The U.S. Customs Service expects to seek a prime contractor within the next
six months for its $1.4 billion modernization program, Chief Information
Officer Woody Hall told a gathering of business executives Thursday.
Although Congress has approved the $124 million to get the project off
the ground, Hall said the delay in getting the money flowing earlier this
year would push back completion of the project at U.S. ports of entry until
2006 or later.
"Even if we start today, it will be two years before you see new capacity
in the field," Hall said at the U.S. Customs Trade Symposium. Nevertheless,
he said, with the current allocation soon to be available, the agency would
advertise for a prime contractor in the spring — a move that will jump-start
Congress has promised the money in the fiscal 2001 budget appropriation,
but that funding has been stalled as a result of political discord on Capitol
Hill. Hall said Customs expects to get the money when the disagreements
Customs officials have been pushing to modernize the 17-year-old Automated
Commercial System. ACS handles each transaction separately, does not provide
access to data at other Customs points and repeatedly breaks down, causing
delays of imports into the United States.
In its place, Customs wants to build the Automated Commercial Environment,
an Internet-based system that can handle a greater volume of imports in
a modular system that can be replaced piece-by-piece if necessary.
"We are poised to take a real step," Customs Commissioner Richard Kelly
told the gathering. "We don't want to build a new system that automates
an old business system. Customs wants to do business the way business does