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BIEC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the mission of the BIEC?

The Border Interagency Executive Council (BIEC) is an interagency working group formally established by Executive Order 13659. The BIEC serves as an Executive Advisory Board charged with assisting federal agencies in their efforts to enhance coordination across customs, transport security, health and safety, sanitary, conservation, trade, and phytosanitary agencies with border management authorities and responsibilities to measurably improve supply chain processes and the identification of illicit and non-compliant shipments.

Who comprises the BIEC leadership and membership, and what is the intended goal?

The BIEC is chaired by the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and the Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission serves as the Vice Chair. BIEC membership includes senior leadership from Departments and agencies with border management authorities and responsibilities, as well as representatives from the Executive Office of the President. Per Executive Order 13659, the BIEC is to measurably improve supply chain processes and the identification of illicit and non-compliant shipments. Specifically, Executive Order 13659 states that the BIEC shall:

a. develop common risk management principles and methods to inform agency operations associated with the review and release of cargo at the border and encourage compliance with applicable law;

b. develop policies and processes to orchestrate, improve, and accelerate agency review of electronic trade data transmitted through relevant systems and provide coordinated and streamlined responses back to users to facilitate trade and support and advance compliance with applicable laws and international agreements, including (in coordination with, and as recommendations to, the ITDS Board of Directors) policies and processes designed to assist the Secretary of the Treasury, as appropriate, with activities related to the ITDS;

c. identify opportunities to streamline Federal Government systems and reduce costs through the elimination of redundant capabilities or through enhanced utilization of the Automated Commercial Environment capabilities as a means of improving supply chain management processes;

d. assess, in collaboration with the Board, the business need, feasibility, and potential benefits of developing or encouraging the private-sector development of web-based interfaces to electronic data systems, including the ITDS, for individuals and small businesses;

e. engage with and consider the advice of industry and other relevant stakeholders regarding opportunities to improve supply chain management processes, with the goal of promoting economic competitiveness through enhanced trade facilitation and enforcement;

f. encourage other countries to develop similar single window systems to facilitate the sharing of relevant data, as appropriate, across governmental systems and with trading partners; and

g. assess, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, opportunities to facilitate electronic payment of duties, taxes, fees, and charges due at importation.

How does the BIEC work complement the work of the ITDS Board of Directors?

The ITDS Board of Directors, chaired by the Department of the Treasury, oversees the development of the ITDS automated capabilities. The BIEC, chaired by the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for improving coordination among the dozens of agencies with border responsibilities and between the U.S. Government and other stakeholders. In close coordination with the ITDS Board of Directors, the BIEC seeks to develop and coordinate policies and processes across agencies that utilize the capabilities offered by ITDS to streamline and enhance trade processes and the identification of illicit and non-compliant shipments.

What role will the White House take in monitoring the progress of all the various agencies in reaching the ultimate goals?

The Executive Office of the President continues to play a critical role in ensuring ITDS is fully deployed and utilized by December 31, 2016 and that agencies work together to streamline trade processes and enhance the identification of illicit and non-compliant shipments. For example, the Executive Office of the President participates as a member of the Border Interagency Executive Council and also helps to coordinate and facilitate implementation efforts through its own convening authority. The Executive Office of the President also reviews and approves agency plans to electronically collect required import and export data.

Different agencies are structured differently in terms of whether enforcement activities reside at a Headquarters level or more “in the field.” How will you work with each agency to ensure that decisions made by the BIEC are communicated down to each office/center around the country and are implemented consistently?

The Border Interagency Executive Council is composed of senior leaders from each participating Department or agency. Participation at this level ensures that any decision made by the BIEC can be communicated across Departments and agencies to all relevant personnel. Further, CBP, in partnership with the PGAs, is developing and disseminating training to meet each agency’s specific needs and to promote consistent implementation.

The move from paper to electronic filing appears to be limited to only a few PGAs. When will all PGAs adopt a paperless environment?

Executive Order 13659 requires the deployment and government-wide utilization of the International Trade Data System by December 2016. By this date, all participating agencies are expected to have the capability to receive and process electronic information. The ACE Development and Deployment Schedule available on www.cbp.gov shows when automated capabilities will be available for each participating agency. Note, however, a limited number of collections will continue to be conducted in paper in instances where electronic collection is not feasible or would create too great a burden on the trade.

Today, late targeting by PGAs (after export of a shipment) results in costly *redelivery of exported shipments to the United States.

a. With the earlier provision of data via the electronic export manifest, will PGAs ensure that shipment holds are issued to carriers prior to export?

b. If a PGA issues a late hold (after a shipment has departed the United States):

i. Will strict parameters be enforced regarding required redelivery (i.e., a higher threshold must be met to demand redelivery than would be required to demand inspection of a shipment still in the United States)?

ii. Will the opportunities for offshore inspection by local Government personnel, in place of redelivery, be expanded?

a. The automated export manifest for each mode of transportation, beginning with air, will be deployed as pilot programs to allow volunteer participants to submit pre-departure manifest data electronically and receive notification of detained. The automated export manifest information (transportation data), when linked to the pre-departure Electronic Export Information (commodity data) found in the Automated Export System (AES) will better support the timely release of shipments that are found to be in compliance with U.S. export control laws.

Those PGAs that have export data requirements will be provided those data elements that are submitted via either the electronic manifest or the commodity filing based on the party that is mostly likely to have accurate information. During the Automated Export Manifest Pilot, PGAs with and without independent redelivery authority, will be able to determine when export detentions are appropriate for the purpose of conducting inspections prior to scheduled export, if operationally feasible.

b. PGAs understand that any redelivery is an unexpected expense but traditionally such demands are rare and generally occur as facts develop after export while the goods are in transit. PGA authority to demand redelivery vary, but where that authority exists, PGAs have strict parameters to ensure that effective and targeted redelivery criteria are met.

i. and ii. The authority and capacity of PGAs to request post-export enforcement of targeted shipments by foreign authorities vary by PGA, international bi-lateral arrangements and the presence of PGA resources in the foreign country.

*Here, “redelivery” means a requirement to return an already-exported shipment to the United States for inspection.

Are all 47 government agencies at the border participating?

CBP and the ITDS BOD are actively working with all of the 47 federal agencies (with a role in trade) on how each PGA will integrate with ACE to implement the Single Window.

Is the view for Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) to scan and image their documents into the system - or have a data feed (like the Electronic Data Interchange) where data will be entered?

Two mechanisms have been built for the submission of PGA forms and other documents to the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).

1. The Document Image System (DIS) allows images of forms/documents, such as foreign certificates, to be submitted to the system.

2. The PGA Message Set converts information, previously submitted via paper forms, into electronic data.

The mechanism used will depend upon the needs of each PGA. Some PGAs may use a combination of the two. However, one of the goals of the Single Window system is to try to convert to a paperless environment—when feasible to do so and when it does not create too great a burden on the trade. To that end, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has tasked its Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) with reviewing requests to use the DIS system to ensure that agencies will only be using it when it is necessary or if using the DIS system would help lessen the data entry burden on the trade.

Can each agency articulate the process it has undergone in preparation for transition to the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)/International Trade Data System (ITDS)? Has it reviewed its regulations and current document requirements to determine if the collected data elements are still relevant?

Each Partner Government Agency (PGA) has or is in the process of completing an implementation plan for transitioning to ACE that follows established ITDS milestones for integrating with the ACE system. The milestones consist of establishing the following:

-Signing a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), which defines the data that a PGA is entitled to receive;

-Determining which ITDS capability will meet the PGAs needs (*PGA Message Set, DIS, and/or Interoperability);

-Creating any necessary policies;

-Publishing required Federal Register Notices (FRNs);

-Building and testing data capabilities;

-If applicable, launching any needed pilots to test changes to system functionality before system wide adoption;

-Establishing a working group with the **Trade Support Network (TSN) for each PGA pilot to ensure trade community input and requirements are detailed and taken into account; and

-Nationwide deployment to all CBP ports.

Each PGA has worked with the ***ITDS Board of Directors’ Legal Policy Committee to review its regulations to identify what data elements must be legally captured, and to see if any of the regulations need to be amended to allow for the information to be gathered electronically.

*The PGA Message Set converts information for individual PGAs, previously submitted via paper forms, into electronic data. The Document Image System (DIS) allows images of forms/documents to be submitted to the system. Interoperability provides the pipeline through which data is transmitted between ACE and individual PGA systems.

** Established in 1994, the Trade Support Network (TSN) provides a forum for CBP to receive input from the trade community on significant modernization efforts. With approximately 300 members, the TSN represents the entire breadth of the trade community, including trade associations, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, sureties, and software vendors.

***The ITDS program is governed by a multi-agency Board of Directors (Board). The Board works with PGAs on all issues related to ACE integration, including policy making, planning, and management. The Board is currently chaired by Tim Skud, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Tax, Trade and Tariff Policy, Department of the Treasury.

For programming purposes, the trade will need to know (well in advance of the implementation deadlines) when these many agencies will be ready for the trade to develop and test new functionality (since many Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) have not been heavily engaged with this process to date). Additionally, how will IT systems be rolled out and linked to private sector systems, and how much advance notice will be given?

CBP is well aware of the long lead time needed for programming purposes. Since 2002, the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) Business Office has worked closely with the *TSN to make the transition to the ACE system. The private sector already uses the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) software to connect to CBP’s current system, and more than 60% of (EDI) software providers are already programmed to transmit data to ACE.

Draft versions of technical requirements for the Single Window capabilities that will be mandated in 2015 are being posted in January 2015. These technical requirements are usually referenced by their acronym, CATAIR, which stands for CBP and Trade Automated Interface Requirements. CATAIRs are organized by chapters, which are subject to change based on updates/modifications to software. Any changes will be disseminated through the Cargo System Messaging Service (CSMS). The CSMS is an e-mail based messaging service with a subscription base of approximately 100,000, which includes a searchable online database of all published messages. To subscribe, please visit this link: Sign up for the CSMS.

As soon as information is available regarding PGA integration, CBP will post that information on CBP.gov/ACE.

The ACE deployment schedule shows the timeline for when PGA integration is scheduled. It was published in 2013, and it is reviewed/updated on a monthly basis. To view the latest schedule, please follow this link: ACE Deployment Schedule. The PGA pilot schedule (updated monthly) details those PGA pilots that are in process or upcoming. The pilot schedule may be accessed via this link: PGA Pilot Schedule

*Established in 1994, the Trade Support Network (TSN) provides a forum for CBP to receive input from the trade community on significant modernization efforts. With approximately 300 members, the TSN represents the entire breadth of the trade community, including trade associations, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, sureties, and software vendors.

It appears the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) is the backbone of the interagency information sharing system. Yet, ACE doesn’t currently have data redundancy. Are there contingency plans in the event of an extended system outage or fatal crash?

CBP has established standard operating procedures (SOPs) to address the continuity of operations in the event of a system outage, and decisions on implementing SOPs during an outage consider projected system downtimes. ACE maintains data redundancy. It buffers all messages sent to the trade and has the capacity to resend any message that failed delivery due to a system outage on either side. The delivery status of each message is also retained for audit and recovery purposes. Transmission of data buffered during the outage can be initiated to bring the systems back in sync.

The ability of the system to support operations despite an outage depends on the extent of the outage within the various components of the system. In the case of a fatal crash, plans are in place to allow inter-agency operations via manual means of communication such as e-mail and phone calls until system capabilities are restored.

How much heads up time will the trade receive after specific data elements/specs are determined for a new data set to be supported by the International Trade Data System (ITDS) and before shippers are required to submit the information in ITDS?

CBP tries to provide as much advance notice as is possible to allow for companies to make the necessary arrangements to meet new requirements. The ACE Business Office (ABO) published its deployment schedule in 2013, and it is reviewed/refreshed monthly. It is available from the following link: ACE Deployment Schedule.

Currently we file Type 52 (Government) Entries. As an importer of this type, every shipment processes manually requiring a CBP Specialist to review documents. We have been importing retail product for over 15 years. When will Type 52 entries be streamlined within electronic information exchange, thus saving Customs, customs brokers, and importers from the manual efforts involved today?

Entry Type 52 is currently automated in the Automated Commercial System (ACS), and it will be converted to the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) in July of 2015. However, current CBP policy requires Type 52 entries be manually reviewed.

Today, many importers and exporters submit trade data directly to the regulatory agencies from enterprise data systems. It is important for these agencies, especially CBP, to appreciate that the time to make modifications to these systems in order to support new government standards may take 12 to 18 months to implement and another 12 months to get into the budget and IT planning queue. The timelines being proposed are incredibly ambitious for the private sector to support. What is the timing on the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)/International Trade Data System (ITDS) project, and when will companies transition fully into the new system?

The timeline was established in the Executive Order; the Single Window must be operational by December of 2016. CBP has established milestones for the transition to ACE, and it has established dates for the mandatory use of ACE. There are three other important mandatory use dates that CBP has had published since 2013:

May 01, 2015: Mandatory use of ACE for all electronic manifest filing.

November 01, 2015: Mandatory use of ACE for all electronic cargo release and related entry summary filing.

October 01, 2016: Mandatory use of ACE for all remaining electronic portions of the CBP cargo process.

Of these, the most important date for Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) is November 01, 2015. On this date, all electronic cargo release filings and associated entry summaries, including those with PGA data, must be filed in ACE. Electronic filing of this data will no longer be accepted in the legacy system. Automated Broker Interface (ABI) Implementation Guides for those capabilities that will be mandated on November 1, 2015 will be posted in January 2015. The guides are available via this link: ABI Implementation Guides.

It is good to see the high level date deadlines for the various stages, but will the Border Interagency Executive Council (BIEC) Process Coordination Committee be determining additional milestone deadline dates for implementation as well?

The overall calendar and milestones hold for the program out through December 2016. However, due to the testing process, and as the PGAs and industry learn from the results of the tests, further activities within the overall schedule will be developed as needed.

How will CBP be using its expertise in risk management to guide the other agencies in how to implement successful risk management programs?

CBP will help guide other Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) to implement risk management programs in two ways:

1. CBP will continue to increase PGA membership in CBP's Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC). Currently there are 11 PGA's in CTAC. Recent membership includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). In the CTAC, these agencies work with CBP towards assessing risk.

2. CBP expects that the implementation of edits built into the PGA message sets will allow PGAs to focus resources on high risk shipments rather than detaining shipments to address data quality issues.

Last modified: 
March 8, 2018