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DHS Advances Development of the U.S. Single Window

This week marks the one year anniversary of the release of Executive Order 13659:  Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America’s Businesses. This Executive Order set an ambitious deadline of December 2016 for the Department of Homeland Security to complete the International Trade Data System (ITDS) and other modernization activities to improve the security and facilitation of goods crossing our Nation’s borders.  Once completed, the ITDS will allow businesses to fulfill government import and export requirements by electronically transmitting a streamlined set of data through the new “Single-Window.”  This electronic system will significantly reduce the reliance on paper forms and manual processes, speed cross-border commerce, and enhance U.S. economic competitiveness.

Work to develop a the ITDS Single Window started years ago, but the concrete deadlines and specific requirements established under Executive Order 13659 inspired a renewed sense of urgency and commitment.  Today, over half of ITDS Single Window technical capabilities have been successfully deployed, and DHS, in partnership with the dozens of other federal agencies with trade-related responsibilities, remains on track meet the December 31, 2016 deadline.  We are working with the trade community to test capabilities as they are deployed, ensuring we develop a system that works for both the government and private sector users.  In addition, DHS led efforts during 2014, to establish a new governance structure called the Border Interagency Executive Council.  As Chair of this Council, I’ve worked with the leadership of other Departments to set common expectations about strategic goals, key milestones, performance measures, and core system capabilities.  We have also challenged ourselves to re-think existing policies and processes impacting trade operations at the border and find ways to improve service outcomes for both businesses and government stakeholders.  For example, the Council is working to implement unified messaging from the government to filers regarding the status of a shipment, enhanced coordination of risk-management activities across agencies, and streamlined data requirements that reduce the filing burden for the trade community.  These improvements, which utilize ITDS capabilities, will result in faster, more predictable processing of lawful cargo at the border while supporting the government’s enforcement and compliance responsibilities.

Looking forward, we will need to continue efforts in 2015 to remain on schedule for an on-time delivery of a fully functional U.S. Government Single Window.  However, engagement and expertise from the industry stakeholders who will ultimately rely on the system remain one of the most critical elements of success.  We would like to thank the many companies that have already partnered with us and other agencies to test Single Window capabilities, as well as the trade advisory committees, Trade Support Network, and other industry partners whose valuable input has guided our work to-date.  We are confident that this strong private-public sector collaboration will continue as we develop the necessary capabilities, conduct operational tests in real-work environments, and then work quickly to ratchet-up use of the system. 

More information about ITDS, including technical documentation, a list of upcoming outreach events, and guidance on how to participate in an ITDS pilot are available at http://www.cbp.gov/trade/automated. Again, I thank all stakeholders, both private and public, for their commitment to this significant effort and look forward to the continued work ahead.

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