Customs Automation:

Observations on Selected Automated Commercial System Modules

IMTEC-89-4BR: Published: Dec 21, 1988. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Customs Service's Automated Commercial System (ACS), focusing on three principal ACS modules that supported the processing, inspection, and release of merchandise imported into the United States.

GAO found that Customs developed ACS to: (1) integrate its commercial operations into one automated system; (2) facilitate the paperless entry of imported merchandise; and (3) improve its effectiveness in enforcing trade and tariff laws. GAO found that: (1) the automated broker interface (ABI) module permits brokers to electronically file entry data with Customs before cargo arrives and electronically file entry summary data after Customs releases the cargo; (2) Customs resolved problems with response times for acknowledging receipt of ABI electronic entries; and (3) as of August 1988, brokers submitted about 62 percent of the formal entries through ABI, and Customs expected this rate to increase to about 85 percent in 2 or 3 years. GAO also found that: (1) the automated manifest system module permits the exchange of information concerning cargo shipments between Customs and carriers; (2) because of differences between types of transportation, Customs was considering separate automated manifest modules for each type; and (3) the module became operational for some sea carriers in 1985, and Customs has made improvements to resolve problems. In addition, GAO found that the cargo selectivity module indicates what type of examination Customs inspectors should perform on imports and allows entry of examination results into an automated history file.

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