Businesses urged to lobby for ITDS adoption
Importers and their customs brokers ought to pressure agencies that have been slow to embrace the new government-wide International Trade Data System because the foot dragging will continue to lead to delays in getting entry clearance for shipments, said Tim Skud, the Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for tax, trade and tariff policy.
The ITDS system is being developed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to provide a single window for trade documentation filing and information sharing. International traders favor the system because it is designed to reduce redundant filing of documents in multiple formats and systems by automatically sifting out information and sending it to agencies in their preferred format. Many agencies place holds on shipments until they can review whether they comply with safety, security or trade regulations. Delays can occur because agencies often do not have enough on-site personnel or electronic systems to quickly review documentation.
Congress mandated in the SAFE Port Act last year that agencies get on board by linking their systems to the ITDS pipeline, but several agencies still have not taken steps to abandon their requirements for paper documentation and give CBP more authority to serve as the initial filter for border release decisions.
Skud told industry representatives on the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee earlier this month that companies are in a position to get agencies to move faster on synchronizing their systems with the rest of the government.
'You're the clients, or victims, of these agencies and can bring attention and make senior policy leaders focus on the change that needs to occur,' Skud said.
After several years of moving through the exploratory phase of ITDS, agencies now need to invest in hardware and re-engineer their processes to create a seamless system.
The ITDS board's main accomplishment so far has been to improve data harmonization across agencies with a cross-border role. The problem, according to companies involved in international trade, is getting agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, and Fish and Wildlife Service to apply the electronic-based data to their decision-making process to speed up releases of goods.
Sam Banks, executive vice president, Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services, suggested that ITDS might be better served by building a concept of operations, rather than simply focusing on the information technology requirements.
'If you could drive more agencies to understand how you build the business process around this information using ITDS,' they would probably become less nervous about changing traditional patterns of work, he said.