Customs Automation:

Effectiveness of Entry Summary Selectivity System Is Unknown

IMTEC-92-20: Published: Mar 24, 1992. Publicly Released: May 21, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the effectiveness and the development of the U.S. Customs Service's automated Entry Summary Selectivity (ESS) subsystem, intended to assist import specialists in tracking duty payments and trade laws violations and to provide for uniform treatment of importers and imported merchandise.

GAO found that Customs: (1) began developing ESS in 1987 as a subsystem to its Automated Commercial System; (2) has not followed good business practices for system development and operation, and did not prepare requirements analyses, feasibility studies, risk or cost-benefit analyses, or implementation plans; (3) continued phase II ESS development, even though phase I ESS testing identified problems involving Customs' failure to inform import specialists about data for review, select all appropriate teams for data review, and set expiration dates for override criteria; (4) did not provide enough computer terminals or adequate training for specialists to use ESS, and ESS did not provide much useful information to help them perform their duties; and (5) began pilot testing phase II ESS without performing adequate system acceptance testing, and decided not to correct a major problem involving the capture of historical information, but to move forward with further deployment of phase II.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendations in this report are no longer applicable because the GAO general management review (GMR) of Customs recommended starting over with ESS. Customs is starting from ground zero and working with Earl Walter, GAO, on the GMR recommendations.

    Recommendation: In order for ESS to meet its objectives in a timely and economical manner, the Secretary of the Treasury should direct the Commissioner of Customs to postpone further development of ESS beyond the phase II pilot until Customs institutes sound management practices in developing and operating ESS. This includes: (1) appointing a project manager for ESS; (2) performing cost-benefit analyses; and (3) developing detailed system requirements, formal test plans, and plans specifying milestones and required resources.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendations in this report are no longer applicable because the GAO GMR of Customs recommended starting over with ESS. Customs is starting from ground zero and working with Earl Walter, GAO, on the GMR recommendations.

    Recommendation: In order for ESS to meet its objectives in a timely and economical manner, the Secretary of the Treasury should direct the Commissioner of Customs to postpone further development of ESS beyond the phase II pilot until Customs corrects the operational and system problems that have been identified so far. This includes assessing the adequacy of ESS training and terminal access and availability and taking action to ensure that any problems identified are expeditiously addressed.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendations in this report are no longer applicable because the GAO GMR of Customs recommended starting over with ESS. Customs is starting from ground zero and working with Earl Walter, GAO, on the GMR recommendations.

    Recommendation: In order for ESS to meet its objectives in a timely and economical manner, the Secretary of the Treasury should direct the Commissioner of Customs to postpone further development of ESS beyond the phase II pilot until Customs develops adequate plans for phases II, III, and IV, relying on government guidelines and sound business practices.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

 

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