INDUSTRY: CONGRESS SHOULD VIEW IMPORTANCE OF ACE BEYOND CUSTOMS
An industry lobbying group told members of the U.S. House of Representatives Friday to consider the importance of the future Automated Commercial Environment beyond the Customs Service.
“It’s not just Customs’ system,” said Michael H. Lane, former deputy commissioner of Customs at the meeting co-sponsored by the Coalition for Customs Automation. “It’s the nation’s system.”
Customs’ system has become important to federal law enforcement agencies, as well as providing data on the country’s economic status.
“It’s an Alan Greenspan-level system,” said Richard Miller, former associate commissioner of congressional affairs at Customs during the Reagan Administration. “If you (Congress) don’t do anything about it, you’re threatening the health of the economy.”
Robin Lanier, senior vice president of international at JBC International, said Customs’ system touches many aspects of daily living. “Your closets are loaded with imported consumer products.”
Customs’ current system, the Automated Commercial System, is 16 years old and has been called inefficient by today’s business practices. “If nothing gets done soon, we’re guaranteed to face this situation of collapse,” said George J. Weise, former Customs commissioner.
Ron Schoof manager of customs and export regulations at Caterpillar and chairman of the Joint Industry Group, said his company’s assembly lines would shut down within 24 hours after a Customs system collapse.
The industry wants Congress to fund Customs’ new system, which will cost about $1.8 billion and take five to seven years to build.
President Clinton’s proposed budget for fiscal 2001 says ACE should be paid through a user fees. The industry and many Congressmen say a user fee is no option, and that ACE funding should come from general funds.
Other industry groups represented were the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, the Information Technology Association of America and the American Association of Port Authorities.