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Customs Service Modernization: Architecture Must Be Complete and Enforced to Effectively Build and Maintain Systems

AIMD-98-70 Published: May 05, 1998. Publicly Released: May 05, 1998.
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Customs Service's enterprise information systems architecture, focusing on determining whether: (1) the architecture is complete; and (2) Customs has processes and procedures to enforce compliance with the architecture.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
United States Customs Service To ensure that the Customs Service develops and effectively enforces a complete enterprise information systems architecture, the Commissioner of Customs should direct the Customs Chief Information Officer (CIO), in consultation with the Treasury CIO, to follow through on plans to complete the enterprise information systems architecture. At a minimum, the architecture should: (1) describe Customs' target business operations; (2) fully define Customs' interrelated business functions to support these target operations; (3) clearly describe information needs (including security) and flows among these functions; (4) identify the systems that will provide these functions and support these information needs and flows; and (5) use this information to specify the technical standards and related characteristics that these systems should possess to ensure that they interoperate, function together efficiently, and are cost-effective to maintain.
Closed – Implemented
Customs worked extensively with the Gartner Group and, in May 1999, completed its enterprise information systems architecture. Customs adopted Treasury's Information System Architecture Framework and periodically met with representatives from Treasury's CIO's office. Customs completed both the baseline and target architectures for its six business processes. In completing the target architecture, Customs described its target business operations for all six business processes, defined its interrelated business functions to support these target operations, and described the information needs and flows among these functions. Customs is using the architecture to identify systems that will provide the information needs and flows to support the functions. Also, Customs' architecture includes a technical reference model that specifies the standards for Customs' systems to ensure that they interoperate effectively and efficiently and they are cost-effective to maintain.
United States Customs Service The Commissioner of Customs should direct the Deputy Commissioner, as Chairman of the Internal Review Board, to establish compliance with the architecture as an explicit requirement of Customs' investment management process except in cases where careful, thorough, and documented analysis supports a waiver to this requirement.
Closed – Implemented
In January 1999, Customs changed its information technology (IT) investment management process to explicitly require that proposed IT investments comply with its enterprise information systems architecture. Specifically, as one of the initial steps of the investment process, the technical review committee reviews all IT investment proposals for architecture compliance. All proposals must comply with the architecture unless an exception is justified and the technical review committee grants a waiver.

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