HOUSE APPROVES $300 MILLION FOR ACE DEVELOPMENT IN FISCAL 2002
The U.S. House of Representatives passed appropriation legislation Wednesday night, which includes $300 million for the development of Customs’ new computer system, the Automated Commercial Environment, in fiscal 2002.
The bill (H.R. 2590) includes appropriations for the Treasury Department, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, and certain independent agencies, passed the House by a 339-to-85 vote.
“We’re happy to see the $300 million to build ACE,” said Alan Atkinson, spokesman for the Washington-based Joint Industry Group, and a member of the Coalition for Customs Automation Funding. “This funding will help to keep the system on a four-to-five year development plan.”
The coalition is a group of more than 200 companies and trade associations that have lobbied Congress for additional ACE funding. The coalition largely credits House Appropriations Committee members Rep. Ernest Istook Jr., R-Okla., and Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., for requesting $300 million for ACE.
A similar appropriations bill in the Senate also includes $300 million for ACE. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill soon. Senators Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo. of the Senate Appropriations Committee were the chief sponsors of the increase in ACE funds.
Once the Senate passes its appropriation bill, the entire Treasury-Postal budget package will go to the president for signature.
Last year, Customs received its first installment of ACE funding, about $130 million, which the agency used to hire a prime contractor, IBM, and begin to lay the groundwork for the new system.
Without an increase in funding, however, the industry feared the $1.4 billion system would take longer than four to five years to build. Customs said it needs ACE to replace its 17-year-old Automated Commercial System.