U.S. Customs Service:

Import Specialists' Duties and Review of Entry Documentation

GGD-85-45: Published: Mar 29, 1985. Publicly Released: Apr 8, 1985.

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GAO reported on the U.S. Customs Service's collection of import duties and the control of products entering the country.

GAO found that the formal Customs entry work load has increased by about 40 percent from fiscal year (FY) 1981 to FY 1984, while Customs had 141 fewer import specialists to process the work load in 1984 than in 1981. Although there have been personnel reductions because of budget constraints, Customs has not been deemphasizing commercial operations but has been working to make the entry review process more efficient. Since 1967, it has been working on a system to reduce import specialist reviews of low-risk entries and, as of February 1985, has been developing national criteria to complement field location review criteria. Until Customs fully develops and implements the criteria, GAO cannot evaluate the effectiveness of the system. GAO reviewed import specialist activities at two of the largest Customs districts and found that most of the import documentation submitted to Customs was determined to be error free. For FY 1983, errors affecting duties and taxes resulted in $26 million in additional assessments to importers and $22 million in refunds to importers. A quality assurance program showed that, nationwide, about 3 percent of the entries that had gone through the entry review process in FY 1983 had errors. While the quality assurance program has not yet generated all of the information necessary to adequately assess the entry review process, Customs is expanding the program to provide more detailed information and will issue additional reports identifying problem areas in the entry process.

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