ITDS TEST PLANNED FOR FEBRUARY
The International Trade Data System is expected to get its first workout in February at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, N.Y.
The concept of the system is to serve as a front end to U.S. Customs' future Automated Commercial Environment and as a link to numerous federal agencies with an interest in international trade data.
ITDS has been in development since 1995. It has suffered from political infighting and lack of industry support.
The ITDS board had planned to test the system in Buffalo next month but it pulled back due to some unanswered technical questions from the industry.
'It's been a long, slow process,' said Gary Dykstra, regional director of the Food and Drug Administration's Southeast region and vice chairman of ITDS. “We have made contact with over 100 agencies and developed a common data set which all have signed off on.”
The ITDS board is seeking volunteers among the customs brokerage and trucking industries to test the system.
“The pilot is heavily dependent on broker participation to give it a fair test,” Dykstra said.
Interest is still slowly evolving among the industry. But some firms have lent their support to its development.
“If this comes about and it works we have some good stuff here,” said Sondra Scott, customs and trade advocate for Roadway Express.
Agencies expected to participate in the initial tests are Customs, FDA, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Department of Transportation.
The tests will be later rolled out to Buffalo's Lewiston Bridge; Detroit; and Laredo, Texas.
The ITDS board hopes to roll out the system to 90 percent of the country's ports, including air and sea, by 2005-2006.
“It’s an ambitious schedule,” Dykstra said. “It depends on how much Congress wants to fund this roll-out effort.”
The system is earmarked to receive $5.4 million in the current House version of the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill. The ITDS board, with help from industry lobbying, hopes to substantially increase ITDS funding in the coming years.
The total cost of the system is expected to be $133 million over the next five years.