The biggest issue facing Customs brokers the past year or so has been the alternately impending and moving deadlines for filing in the Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE.
You’ve heard us talking about this for what feels like an eternity now, but several years ago, the President signed an Executive Order mandating that all federal agencies will use a single portal for the filing of import and export information by December 1, 2017. This meant bringing 100+ agencies into the 21st Century to receive and transmit authorizations for entry and exit through a single point. Customs and Border Protection was deemed to be that single point.
ACE’s development has accelerated over the past several years, with CBP moving to a “sprint” philosophy of programming where they iterated in six-week cycles. Fast forward through all the deployments and drops, and CBP told the trade: November 1, 2015, was the hard and fast deadline. But the agencies weren’t ready and the data sets for things like FDA and other agencies were just being tested in pilots.
So CBP changed it to a “transition” period from November 1 through February 28, 2016. But come March 1st, most entry types would need to be transmitted through ACE. And in October? ACS, the system of record for the past 30+ years, would be decommissioned for entry leaving only ACE as the filing portal.
Today, we are less than month away from that February 28th deadline, and CBP are still pushing out changes to the programming. This week they had to roll back a change they made to FDA’s programming.
The NCBFAA called for, and we support, a moratorium in changes to allow the trade the requisite amount of time to sufficiently test ACE without changes being pushed into the system.
We are working with our software provider and testing at every opportunity. We have trained our people, we are educated on what is required. You may have noticed us asking for more details as well, because ACE has some more information that we need to provide for release.
Lisa Ragan will be as ready as we can for when the system goes live and will take every step possible to ensure that things go smoothly and cargo is released and delivered without delay. If things like programming on CBP’s side prevent that from happening, we will keep you all in the loop.