American Shipper

SENATE FINANCE VOICES SUPPORT FOR CUSTOMS’ ACE FUNDING

SENATE FINANCE VOICES SUPPORT FOR U.S. CUSTOMS’ ACE FUNDING

   Senate Finance Committee members said Thursday they support funding for
U.S. Customs’ future automation system.
   "We’re probably funding Customs at a third of the level that we
should,"
said Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, at the first of three hearings on Customs’
operations. "We’re going to hurt people a lot more by not funding it."
   Customs has asked for about $1.4 billion over four years to build its
new umbrella system. The Automated Commercial Environment will replace the agency’s
15-years-old system, which has been prone to slowdowns.
   "That’s not a lot of money," said Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan,
D-N.Y.,
ranking member of the committee. "I don’t think it’s fair" that Customs is
underfunded for systems.
   General Motors’ director of customs administration Kevin Smith told the
committee that a shutdown of Customs’ system longer than a day would shut
down the automaker’s assembly lines.
   The General Accounting Office, which has been critical of Customs’
system development efforts, said it is pleased with the agency’s recent
efforts to follow GAO recommendations.
   The Clinton administration suggested in its proposed 2000 budget to fund
Customs’ automation through a new user fee. Most congressional and industry leaders say
that they will not support this "tax," and that the money
should come from the government’s general funds.
   The next two hearings are expected to focus on Customs’ enforcement
efforts and internal management.