Industry expresses disappointment that Customs’ umbrella system remains vulnerable to shutdowns.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection scrambled Thursday morning to bring its umbrella computer system, the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), back to full operation after an overnight power outage at its data center in Sterling, Va.
According to the agency, the power outage occurred between 11:30 p.m. and 1:45 a.m. EST. The outage continued to affect various aspects of ACE processing throughout the morning.
“CBP is aware of an issue impacting ACE availability and is currently investigating the full impacts. At this time, all ACE applications are offline, as applicable. Accordingly, downtime procedures are authorized as appropriate,” the agency said in a message to the trade at 9 a.m.
The agency followed that message at 10:25 a.m. with another which stated: “As CBP brings ACE applications back online, we are processing end-of-day jobs (such as statements) and inbound queues continue to process.”
Some trade-processing aspects in ACE, such as manifest, were delayed coming back online Thursday morning, while others were operating as usual, according to industry representatives contacted by American Shipper.
“We’ve transmitted claims this morning without a problem,” said David Corn, vice president of Oradell, N.J.-based duty drawback specialist Comstock/C.J. Holt. “We’re on a normal schedule here.”
Peter Gruettner, president of Extra Logistics in Lakewood, Calif., said at noon EST, “You can transmit – but you cannot get a result of the transmission.”
At 12:30 p.m. EST, the agency reported to the trade: “All ACE cargo systems have been fully restored, and CBP has resumed normal operations. The inbound queues have all been processed, and all end-of-day jobs, such as statements, have been successfully completed.”
However, there is disappointment within the industry that ACE remains vulnerable to downtimes, such as those caused by power outages.
“The Airforwarders Association has long advocated for increased leveraging of technology in automating the import clearance process through the Automated Commercial Environment platform,” said Executive Director Brandon Fried. “Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the system is only as good as its reliability, making service interruptions to such an important trade tool intolerable.
“While we applaud CBP’s ongoing efforts to maintain and hopefully improve ACE, assuring its operational redundancy is not only crucial to our business but America’s economic competitiveness. The agency must make the necessary investments now to avoid similar service disruptions in the future,” he said.