On average, more than $10 billion worth of traded goods enter or exit the United States each day, but importers and exporters sometimes were required to wait days before getting the go-ahead to move their products across U.S. borders.
CBP Executive Assistant Commissioner for Trade Brenda Smith and the Single Window Team at CBP have dramatically altered the process of obtaining approval, which entails submitting duplicate information, sometimes even using paper forms, to multiple federal angencies. During a four-year period, EAC Smith and Assistant Commissioner Phillip Landfried of the Office of Information Technology organized the implementation of the Single Window via the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), an online portal that allows businesses to deal with all regulatory agencies in one place.
As a result of their leadership, implementation of the “Single Window” via ACE last December – which has been in the works for more than a decade – has eliminated more than 250 paper forms and hundreds of redundant data requests and greatly reduced wait times for import and export decisions.
After Smith joined the project in 2012, she established an interagency council comprised of the 47 agencies to build consensus and help solve problems and also collaborated extensively with private industries ranging from mass retailers to automotive and electronics firms.
Pictured above, CBP Executive Assistant Commissioner for Trade Brenda Smith (left) and Assistant Commissioner Phillip Landfried of the Office of Information Technology (right). (Photo courtesy of CBP)
“She built partnerships with tens of thousands of importers and exporters, customs brokers, dozens of software providers and 47 government agencies,” Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said.
To create the technology and infrastructure to support the initiative, EAC Smith and AC Landfried adopted an approach that relied on innovative methodologies and both government and private-sector partnerships to build, test and deploy the user-friendly automated system.
“AC Landfried introduced Agile Methodologies to turn ACE around – focusing on producing working code every two weeks as the most important measure of progress,” Valerie Isbell, Acting Deputy Assistant Commissioner of OIT, said. The move to Agile was a critical turning point for accomplishing the Single Window, as it drove rapid delivery of trade processing capabilities in ACE for real-time use by CBP officers and businesses.
“I thought the complexity would be the automation,” Smith said. “But we found that the complexity was in managing the change. There were so many levels of impact that had to be taken into account—policy, operations, education, resources and logistics—on both the government side and in the private sector. To manage this, you had to understand the whole ecosystem.”
ACE is now the backbone of CBP’s trade processing and risk management activities, providing a single, centralized access point to connect CBP, partner government agencies (PGAs) and the trade community. Please remember to show your support for the Single Window team through casting your vote for the CBP Single Window Team at this link.