US Customs postpones more ACE rollouts

US Customs and Border Protection

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has indefinitely postponed the rollout of several more functions of its troubled new electronic filing system.

The move buys more time for users still struggling to transition from Customs legacy’s system, but highlights ongoing technical challenges that the new system faces.

In an announcement last week, the agency said the deployment of post-release capabilities for the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system including liquidation, drawback, reconciliation, duty deferral, collections, statements and the Automated Surety interface will be postponed.

“In consideration of stakeholders’ feedback and the complexity of the ongoing integration testing, CBP is providing additional time to prepare for the final core ACE deployment and ensure a smooth transition. CBP will provide updated information and a new deployment date in the near future,” Customs said in a statement.

Although Customs would not go into any more details in its statement, the move raises serious concern about the readiness of Customs, its technology, trade participants and system users.

It’s been an ironic start for the new initiative. The ACE system was designed with the intent of streamlining cross border trade, allowing shippers to easily transmit documents with government agencies, saving time and money. The system, now three years behind schedule, twice delayed and more than $1billion over budget has been notoriously plagued with issues.

But, after the glitch riddled rolled out in May followed by a period of reorganization during which several deadlines for Partner Government Agencies (PGA) were changed, Customs assured the public that understanding matters had been resolved and the system course had been righted.

As of July 23, ACE became the sole Customs authorized system for processing electronic entry and entry summary filings. Customs is no longer accepting any entry or entries summaries in its legacy Automated Commercial System (ACS). Even the mandatory filing for the Food and Drug Administration went relatively smoothly. And that transition was supposed to be the toughest.

ACE users have routinely expressed concerns that the trade industry has had little time to digest and prepare for the changes involved in the transition to ACE from ACS. Customs though had said it has been attempting to address those concerns. Customs Cargo Systems Messaging Service provides routine updates on the ACE system and there are daily calls between Customs and filers- with meeting its own deadlines.

The federal agency was tasked by executive order in 2014 to conduct all business in the International Trade Data System—a single channel for routing documentation to agencies without redundant filings by the end of 2017.


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