U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) Collections is the final ACE module that supports the enduring mission and priority of facilitating lawful trade and protecting revenue. ACE fulfills CBP’s goal to unite the revenue and trade entry lifecycles within a single window and retires the over 30-year-old Automated Commercial System (ACS). ACE enables end-to-end trade functions from entry to liquidation. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, 368 million cargo entries and 20 million export shipments were processed through ACE, totaling $1.7 trillion. Also in FY 2021, ACE’s streamlined processes enabled publicly reportable processing efficiencies valued at an estimated $720.1 million for CBP, up from $358 million in FY 2020, and an estimated $2.25 billion for industry, up from $1.4 billion in FY 2020.
The demands of CBP’s mission and the needs of our trade partners required a modernized system to replace and retire the legacy system. ACE Collections provides the Agency a flexible, secure platform to support the growing complexities of global trade facilitation and enforcement. This modern Cloud-based system enhances user experience through improved IT digital services for CBP, Partner Government Agencies and the trade community.
“Modernizing ACE, a system vital to U.S. trade and the functioning of our economy, is an important achievement long in the making,” said AnnMarie Highsmith, Executive Assistant Commissioner for the CBP Office of Trade. “We are grateful for our partners at the General Services Administration and to all who contributed to making these modernizations a reality.”
ACE also bolsters CBP’s mission to enhance legitimate trade and travel while improving customs enforcement, revenue collection and trade protections. As the nation’s second largest revenue collecting federal agency, CBP utilizes ACE to collect more than $90 billion in duties, taxes and fees annually.
ACE Collections is a collaborative project between the CBP Offices of Finance, Information and Technology, Trade, and Field Operations. When resourcing became tight, the ACE Collections Team leveraged the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) as an innovative funding option. Meeting GSA’s rigorous approval criteria, the CBP team demonstrated the presence of:
- A proven governance structure,
- DHS and CBP leadership support,
- A mature technical architecture,
- Proven Agile framework practitioners,
- Seasoned project management and technical leadership,
- Cost estimation success, and
- A sound understanding of business requirements to the TMF Board.
CBP met every TMF principle, and the TMF awarded CBP $15 million to accelerate the modernization of revenue collection from the outdated legacy ACS. The $15 million funded three of the seven ACE collections releases - Releases 4, 5 and 6. CBP is currently paying back the TMF as part of the original TMF agreement. Once ACS is retired, CBP will realize a return of investment of over $30M annually in legacy system operations and maintenance costs.
“The partnership and collaboration between the Technology Modernization Fund and U.S. Customs and Border Protection is a perfect example of how federal agencies can leverage an innovative investment approach to effectively deliver for the American people,” said TMF Executive Director Raylene Yung. “With ongoing support from the TMF, CBP completed three significant phases of work on migrating their Automated Commercial Environment Collections system to a new cloud-based platform, allowing them to retire a costly 30-year-old legacy system while improving data collection, enhancing the customer experience, and saving taxpayer dollars.”
Since inception of the ACE Collections project, CBP successfully deployed Releases 1 through 6 on schedule, within budget and without major issues.
“I am grateful to our TMF partners for their support of this important work. I’m also extremely proud of our ACE Collections management team and the incredible partnership they forged across TMF, GSA, DHS, and all CBP lines of effort,” said Jeffrey Caine, CBP Chief Financial Officer. “That partnership set a new standard in communication and collaboration and brought CBP into the Cloud – on time, on schedule and on budget! We are now harnessing that same team to build the requirements for ACE 2.0, which will serve as our North Star for the next two decades in facilitating legal trade and travel while increasing trade enforcement. Well done team CBP! Thanks, TMF!”
These modernizations will make CBP’s mission essential operations more efficient, resilient, and secure. ACE Collections will also safeguard the nation’s global economic competitiveness through legitimate trade, benefiting American consumers, businesses, the U.S. government and the Trade community.
“The outstanding job of our ACE Collections team showcases the remarkable work CBP can accomplish working with our trusted partners across government and in the trade community,” said CBP Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Information and Technology and Chief Information Officer Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia. “CBP and DHS have set a great example and standard for the U.S. government in successful execution of TMF-funded projects with scope, cost and schedule and Agile delivery.”
Through the modernized secure Cloud platform and Agile framework, CBP now electronically processes over 92% of revenue and the automated posting of approximately 4,000 consolidated Deferred Tax bills, which replaced the labor-intensive manual posting of 190,000 bills. As the first funded and completed DHS TMF project, the ACE Collections project provides a proven example for current and future DHS projects requesting funds through the TMF.