Importers sought for ACE test

The U.S. Customs Service is moving quickly to launch the first test of a modernization program that is designed to speed imports and will link every U.S. border entry via a Web site.

Customs is seeking 40 importers to participate in the program's initial phase, which will enable participants to access their Customs data via a Web-based account portal. The test, expected to last two years, is the first step toward the full electronic processing of commercial imports in the program known as the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).

"We think it's important to move forward on ACE as soon as possible," said Olga Grkavac, an executive vice president with the Information Technology Association of America. "This effort will be a way to demonstrate the positive effort and incredible impact" of modernization.

The latest details on the project were published in the Federal Register on May 1. Importers selected for the first test must qualify by participating in a joint Customs/private-sector program to increase border security. Under that program, announced April 16, Customs will speed border crossings for importers who agree to comply with security rules and conduct their own security searches.

Customs expects to select a broad range of importers representing a variety of industries, and it will give these companies a chance to provide early feedback to federal officials on the $1.3 billion system.

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