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Highlights

This report discusses the U.S. Custom Service's expenditure plan for its Automated Commercial Environment System (ACE). GAO found that (1) Customs' expenditure plan satisfies the legislative conditions specified in the 2001 Consolidated Appropriations Act, (2) activities described in the plan are consistent with GAO's two open recommendations regarding the need for Customs to justify and make ACE investment decisions incrementally and strengthen ACE software acquisition management, and (3) there are two areas needing improvement. Customs has not adequately justified investing in the International Trade Data System (ITDS) pilot project parallel with, and separate from, planned ITDS efforts under ACE modernization. Also, Customs has defined conflicting roles and responsibilities for its independent verification and validation (IV&V) contractor.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security 1. To improve Customs' ACE modernization management, the Commissioner of the U.S. Custom Service should direct the Chief Information Officer, as the modernization executive, to immediately transfer responsibility and accountability for the ITDS pilot to the ACE modernization program manager.
Closed - Implemented
Effective May 2, 2001, Customs transferred all ITDS program management responsibilities to the Customs Modernization Office, which is headed by the ACE modernization program manager. This action was a direct response to GAO's recommendation.
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security 2. To improve Customs' ACE modernization management, the Commissioner of the U.S. Custom Service should direct the Chief Information Officer, as the modernization executive, to include any plans for further investing in the ITDS pilot, including cost, benefit, and risk justification, in the next ACE expenditure plan.
Closed - Implemented
Customs suspended the International Trade Data System (ITDS) pilot on September 11, 2001, to devote all available resources to maintaining its "Level One Alert" status at border crossings. Customs does not plan to restart the ITDS pilot. Nevertheless, Customs has integrated ITDS and the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), and plans for ITDS investment are integral to ACE expenditure plans.
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security 3. To improve Customs' ACE modernization management, the Commissioner of the U.S. Custom Service should direct the Chief Information Officer, as the modernization executive, to clarify the ACE modernization IV&V agent's roles and responsibilities to ensure that independence is not compromised.
Closed - Implemented
Customs has clarified the ACE IV&V agent's role by eliminating the agent's program support responsibilities in areas where it has IV&V responsibility. This action ensures that IV&V independence will not be compromised.

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