Meeting the Challenge: Alternative Funding Helps CBP Serve Stakeholders
CBP’s “to do” list is staggering. Our agency has an incredibly complicated mission: to protect and secure our borders while facilitating lawful travel and trade. At our land, air, and sea ports of entry, CBP processes more than a million travelers, more than 70,000 truck, rail, and sea cargo containers, and nearly $7 billion in imports – every single day. The volumes of travel and trade continue to rise; that’s great news for the economy, but CBP must be prepared to meet these increasing demands.
CBP’s staffing and modernization needs have far outpaced the federal funding we receive through traditional appropriations from Congress. As a result, we are constantly refining our processes and policies to make sure we are as efficient and as effective as possible. Thankfully, Congress now allows CBP and its stakeholders – such as airports, airlines, and municipalities – to work together through alternative funding programs to identify opportunities to improve services and enhance infrastructure.
One alternative funding mechanism is our Donations Acceptance Program (DAP). CBP works with the General Services Administration (GSA) to accept donations of real property, personal property (including monetary donations), and non-personal services for port of entry construction, alteration, operations and maintenance purposes.
In just its first year of operation, the DAP Team, in close coordination with GSA, orchestrated a large-scale, multi-agency proposal evaluation effort; facilitated the selection of three proposals in Texas (collectively valued at $12.8 million) for further planning and development. Furthermore, CBP is working with GSA to evaluate eight new donation proposals.
Another alternative funding avenue is our Reimbursable Services Program (RSP). Private and public sector entities can reimburse CBP for the costs of providing additional customs and immigration inspection services. This lets our partners target exactly where they need CBP to provide additional services.
The RSP has really paid off: during its first year, participating airports saw a remarkable 30 percent decrease in wait times – even though passenger volumes rose by seven percent. During the program’s first two years of operation, CBP provided an additional 125,000 hours of services accounting for the processing of more than 3 million travelers and nearly 460,000 personal and commercial vehicles at the participating ports of entry.
Congress has recognized the value of the RSP. When the program began in 2013, CBP was authorized to sign five agreements per year – and only for customs and immigration-related services. However, that initial authority has been expanded into a five year pilot (effective FY 2014), allowing for an unlimited number of land and sea agreements, 10 air agreements per year (effective FY 2016), and the authority has been broadened to include agriculture and support services. CBP has signed 29 reimbursable service agreements covering 28 ports of entry, and February 1 marks the opening of the Fiscal Year 2016 application period for new agreements. We encourage interested parties to explore the RSP option to support increased flows of passengers and cargo.
These two alternative funding mechanisms are proof positive that CBP is committed to exploring new ways to serve our travel and trade stakeholders. For more information, visit cbp.gov/dap and cbp.gov/rsp.