Kerlikowske’s assistant to ensure Customs’ policies are implemented.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, who took office in March, has added Patrick Schmidt as a special advisor to ensure progress continues on key trade priorities and the office maintains close communications with the import/export industry.
Schmidt previously served for six years as a policy advisor to Kerlikowske in the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Before that he worked for the Corporate Executive Board, a business research and consulting firm, focusing on human capital management and human resources best practices. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he majored in government.
Kerlikowske, a former police chief in Seattle and Buffalo, N.Y., appears so far to have assuaged business groups that his law enforcement background doesn’t mean resources will be applied unevenly for cross-border cargo security. He has publicly and privately expressed that he understands the need to keep commerce flowing as smoothly as possible and to maintain CBP’s internal transformation into an enabler of trade.
The former drug czar has also said one of his strengths is bringing people together across agencies to implement policies, and that his law enforcement credentials give him credibility when making the case on Capitol Hill or in the administration for trade simplification programs.
In a brief meeting at his office on Friday to introduce Brenda Smith as the new assistant commissioner for international trade, Kerlikowske said he is surrounding himself with talented managers who are well versed in trade issues.
He said senators expressed interest during his confirmation process that there be a “go-to person” on trade within the commissioner’s office.
Smith, along with Special Trade Advisor Maria Luisa Boyce and the Office of Field Operations, have primary responsibility for overhauling how Customs does business.
Schmidt said he is responsible for making sure that policy initiatives are coordinated each day with all relevant CBP components and other government agencies, and working closely with partners in the trade and travel industries so the agency is responsive to their needs.
Customs’ top trade priorities include final development of the Automated Commercial Environment to support trade processing and risk-management decisions, building up the Centers for Excellence of Expertise, enhancing trusted trader programs through collaboration with other government agencies, and developing an export facilitation capability.
Smith, who currently heads the ACE Business Office, assumes her new role on Sept. 21.