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What's New in Innovation

Business Transformation and Innovation Division

The mission of Business Transformation and Innovation Division (BTID) is to actively engage in the future strategic vision of the Office of Trade (OT) to provide strong foundations of future technology investments which will facilitate, secure, and reduce costs related to the movement of cargo. BTID focuses on assessing and analyzing new technologies within the parameters of CBP’s business needs, and providing a futuristic vision on products and software so that the agency can proactively pursue advancements in the technical environment.

Interoperability Standards

CBP is currently focusing on interoperability standards, or the ability for different software systems to work with each other. To facilitate the development of interoperability, CBP is investing into standards and technologies that will foster a transparent, seamless, and global supply chain. The goal is to integrate this technology via interoperability standards which allows trade partners to maintain technology choice while future-proofing the industry for new and disruptive technologies. CBP’s advocacy of international interoperability standards supported the recent adoption of Decentralized Identifiers (DID) as an official web standard by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), as detailed in this W3c press release.

Proofs of Concept

BTID develops blockchain proofs of concept (POC) with trade partners serving on the Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC). A POC is a short assessment used to demonstrate the feasibility of a specific concept or theory utilizing a fail fast methodology. At the completion of a proof of concept, a 360-degree assessment is completed, evaluating four primary areas: Legal,  Policy, Technical, and Operational.

Current Collaborative Projects with the Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP), DHS Science and Technology (S&T)

  • Improved traceability of crude oil shipments 
  • Real time tracking of in-bond movements
  • Assists CBP validation of USMCA claims
  • Enhanced reporting between CBP and Department of Energy
  • Ensures proper classification and duty collection

  • Increased supply chain transparency from foreign manufacturer to US
  • Receive digital twin certified mill test report at time of manufacture
  • Deter alteration of mill test report through the supply chain
  • Assists CBP with identification of misclassification of scrap/waste shipments
  • Ensures proper classification and duty collection

  • Enhance the visibility of food supply chains (from farm to point of purchase)
  • Enable the application of appropriate duties
  • Reduce spoilage and waste
  • Reduce paper documents
  • Expedite inspection times
  • Enhance targeting

  • Improved traceability of natural gas shipments
  • Real time tracking of in-bond movements
  • Allows paperless identification of private sector and government actors related to natural gas exchange
  • Enhanced reporting between CBP and Department of Energy

  • Track small packages using Blockchain technology
  • Ingest data from online marketplace entities
  • Receive pre-arrival and pre-release information
  • Provide transparency and the ability to stop illicit materials/safety of small package imports
  • Track small packages using Blockchain/Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)

Completed Proofs of Concept

In September 2018, CBP conducted the North American Free Trade Agreement/Central America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA/CAFTA) POC, which tested the application of blockchain technology for the entry summary submission process for NAFTA/CAFTA entries. Select the complete assessment and report of the NAFTA/CAFTA POC to read more.

An assessment of the technology, along with the policy and legal issues raised by the POC, was conducted following the test. It found that use of the blockchain achieved almost instantaneous communications between CBP and trade, improved documentation of receipt, and expedited processing for CBP. Other benefits included:

  • Easier access to back-up documentation when required.
  • Easier access to importer/more direct communication.
  • Enhanced targeting.
  • Full data (CO, entity data, etc.) received with initial submission of entry summary.
  • Potential issues captured early on.
  • Eliminated manual documentation requirements and duplicative data entry.

In September 2019, CBP conducted the Intellectual Property Rights POC, which tested a blockchain technology that facilitates shipments based on known licensing relationships (Licensor and sub licensee relationships). Read the complete assessment and report of the IPR POC.

Study to look at Purchase Order to Entry

  • The study was conducted by the Borders, Trade, and Immigration Institute (BTI) of the University of Houston
  • Looked at starting data from Purchase Order submission, and combining shipping and entry data
  • Reverse engineer Entry/Entry Summary Processes to remove dependency on Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS)
  • Included all modes of transportation and a look at architectural/technical implications
  • Read the final report on "Transforming Trade and Ensuring Global Supply Chain Security with Blockchain and Smart Contracts"

Addressing Cross Border E-commerce Challenges with Emerging Technologies

  • Researched how to leverage emerging technologies to augment and enhance data sharing and the economic costs and benefits from incorporating emerging technologies
  • Researched the impact on efficiency effects for the consumer, the importer, and other stakeholders
  • Conducted with BTI of the University of Houston
  • Read the final report

R3: A Permissioned Blockchain Testbed for Tuna Tracking

  • Being developed by Texas A&M University as part of the DHS Cross-Border Threat Screening and Supply Chain Defense, Center of Excellence
  • Creates a realistic model of global tuna supply chain components, from fishing vessels through entry into the U.S. in a computational testbed environment
  • Designs a testbed that will enhance visibility into complex tuna supply chains for airtight tuna, tracking tuna from origin to import
  • View the project summary to learn more about this ongoing project
  • Last Modified: September 13, 2022