The Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) has awarded $15 million to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to replace the Automated Commercial System (ACS), a 30-year-old tool for collecting customs duties, taxes, and fees by incorporating collections functionality into the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) as a new module.
As the nation’s second largest revenue collecting federal agency, CBP used the Automated Commercial Environment to collect more than $80 billion of revenue for the United States through duties, taxes, and fees in Fiscal Year 2019 alone. ACS, which is the agency’s last remaining mainframe solution for ACE, runs and uses 3.9 million lines of antiquated Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) code.
CBP will use the TMF award to develop a cloud-based core collection system that will modernize both the underlying technology and the code base. The development of the ACE Collections Module will enable CBP to retire ACS, as well as decommission CBP’s last remaining mainframe solution, which supports the current tool.
CBP will also achieve operational efficiencies that will decrease its current software expenses and reduce other existing development and maintenance expenditures. CBP anticipates that it will have a greater ability to fulfill its mission by modernizing the basic functionality of its collections system.
“This modernization will make CBP’s operations more efficient, resilient and secure, while safeguarding the nation’s global economic competitiveness through legitimate trade to benefit U.S. businesses and partner government agencies,” said CBP Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Caine.
CBP utilized the Agile SecDevOps methodology to successfully develop and deploy its first ACE collections release on September 7, 2019. This release moved CBP’s automated clearing house (ACH) debit/credit processing to the CBP Amazon Web Service Cloud Environment (CACE), eliminating the manual processes for reconciling ACE and ACS Mainframe data. By housing 100 percent of ACH processing in CACE, the system is not only flexible and scalable, but also contains high-level security and encryption.
The collections release was a major milestone in ACE’s transition from ACS Mainframe to CACE and has set the foundation for the rest of ACE Collections functionality modernization efforts using the TMF funding.
“This release to the CACE environment allows CBP to implement enhancements in real time during normal business hours with zero downtime and no impact to the end user community,” said CBP Acting Chief Information Officer Sanjeev Bhagowalia.
The TMF award of $15 million will help CBP migrate the remaining collections modules off the legacy mainframe and into the modernized cloud environment. This will offer better resiliency and increase the reliability of CBP’s financial system.
Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner for CBP’s Office of Trade, said the award will make for a more efficient, more secure, and reliable collections process for importers.
The Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2017 authorized the TMF as a funding vehicle to provide government agencies a means to improve and innovate services used by the American public.