HOUSE APPROVES $300 MILLION FOR ACE
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations Bill, which includes $300 million to develop Customs’ future computer system, by a vote of 334 to 94 Tuesday evening.
This bill surpasses the Bush administration’s proposed fiscal 2002 budget for Customs’ Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) by $270 million. If the government’s budget for ACE remains static at $130 million, it’s estimated that the system will take 12 to 14 years to build. The $300 million for fiscal 2002 will help to keep ACE development within Customs’ four-to-five year roll-out plan.
“The decision to provide more funding for this much needed new system was difficult for (House) members to make in light of the many competing demands for funding,” said Jim Clawson of the Coalition for Customs Automation Funding, applauding the House for its vote to approve the $300 million in ACE funding.
The CCAF is a coalition of more than 300 trade associations, importers, exporters, customs brokers, freight forwarders, carriers, consultants and attorneys that has lobbied Capitol Hill for the past two years to fund ACE.
ACE is expected to provide Customs and other government agencies with more efficient technology that will increase the speed of exports and importers, protect the country’s borders and the public, and efficiently collect more than $21 billion in revenue for the government annually. “The system pays for itself,” the coalition said.
“These new efficiencies for both government and industry will assist in rebuilding the U.S. economy by removing unnecessary supply chain costs,” Clawson said. “We now call upon the members of the Senate to quickly consider the importance of funding this Customs system and pass a similar bill.”