CCAF PREPARES AGENDA FOR BUSH ADMINISTRATION, CONGRESS
A group of industry officials will meet in Washington tonight to celebrate its victory on securing the first funding to build Customs’ future computer system.
The Coalition for Customs Automation Funding comprises more than 200 companies, trade associations, consultants, law firms and lobbyists. CCAF’s persistent letter writing and numerous personal meetings with congressional and government officials during the past two years had paid off in the fiscal 2001 budget.
In the budget, Customs secured $258 million for its automation budget, of which $130 million was earmarked for ACE development. The system is expected to cost $1.4 billion and about four to five years to build.
CCAF gives much of the credit for the initial ACE funding to the hard work of Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government.
On Thursday, a group of coalition members will begin to develop an agenda to deal with the incoming Bush Administration about ACE funding issues.
“We have a shot with this administration,” said Robin Lanier, chairman of the coalition, based in Washington. “But we have to make our arguments heard.”
One of the coalition’s biggest concerns will be to dispel any belief in the White House and Office of Management and Budget that industry user fees are needed to help pay for ACE. This was a persistent battle for the coalition during the Clinton years.
Also, Ernest Istook Jr., R-Okla, has replaced Kolbe as chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government. Lanier said the coalition will work hard to educate the new chairman about ACE funding issues.