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Modernized Automation of Trade Processing (ACE) Realized

The following is a blog post reprinted with permission from Kevin McAleenan, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

I am proud to announce that on Saturday, February 24, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) completed the final major step in automating the import and export process within the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).

This is a monumental milestone for CBP — over 15 years in the making — an electronic system that streamlines and automates all phases of cargo processing, including pre-arrival, arrival, post release, exports, and partner government agency (PGA) integration into what we call a “single window.”

ACE has been one of the most complex information technology projects ever undertaken by the federal government. CBP personnel developed over 5.3 million lines of code, automated 269 forms, input the regulations of more than 47 PGAs and added hundreds of thousands of users.

With continued and sustained growth in the volume of trade in the early 1990s and 2000s, the U.S. Government set out to modernize its practices and systems. Initially conceived in mid-1990s, the ACE program began in the early 2000s. Following a series of challenges, the program halted.

In 2010, with the creation of the ACE executive steering committee and the ACE Business Office, CBP put ACE back on track. In the last four years, ACE quickly catapulted to completion with the last deployment, which included post release capabilities for liquidation, reconciliation and drawback processes, occurring Saturday.

The benefits of a more streamlined process are materializing. Built on a modernized platform, ACE has resulted in many improvements, for example, a 44 percent reduction in wait times for truck processing at land ports of entry, 68 times faster processing of single and continuous bonds, and 24/7 availability of the Electronic Notice of Liquidation. Savings in Fiscal Year 2017 alone amounted to $52 million for industry and an estimated $28 million in processing efficiencies for CBP. In FY2016, ACE led to an estimated 1.42 percent reduction in the cost of importing goods into the United States for a total economic benefit of $6.5 billion.

ACE facilitates legitimate trade and strengthens border security by providing government officials and the trade community with improved automated tools and information. This is significant in light of CBP’s recently released report on trade in FY2017. CBP processed more than $2.4 trillion in imports, almost $1.7 trillion in exports and collected approximately $40.7 billion in duties, taxes and fees in FY2017.

Thanks to the strong partnerships and collaboration across government and industry, we have crossed the finish line. With advanced, automated visibility to shipment data, federal agencies can expedite their import or export assessments at the border, speeding up the flow of legitimate trade across the border while also improving the security and safety of domestic businesses and ultimately the consumer.

Looking ahead, CBP will focus on sustaining all deployed ACE capabilities and ensuring ACE operates as a highly available, reliable system. There is an ongoing demand for additional and enhanced ACE capabilities, and CBP will continue to collaborate with the trade community, PGAs, and stakeholders to implement automated solutions that enhance secure shipments, streamline trade processes and strengthen enforcement of trade laws.

 

Kevin K. McAleenan became Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection January 20, 2017. As the agency’s chief executive, Mr. McAleenan oversees 60,000 employees, manages a budget of over $13 billion, and ensures the effective operations of CBP’s efforts to protect national security while promoting economic prosperity and security. Mr. McAleenan directs CBP’s three core missions, counterterrorism, border security, and trade enforcement, while facilitating $4 Trillion in trade and facilitating travel of over 365 million people through ports of entry. He oversees the largest law enforcement agency and the second-largest revenue collecting source in the federal government.

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