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CBP Gets First Senate-Confirmed Commissioner in Five Years

Monday, March 10, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Senate voted March 6 to confirm R. Gil Kerlikowske as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Kerlikowske had been director of national drug control policy since 2009 and has 37 years of law enforcement and drug policy experience, including nine years as chief of police in Seattle, Wash., and five years as police commissioner in Buffalo, N.Y.

At a Jan. 15 hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Kerlikowske stated that while CBP is responsible for preventing entry to terrorists and their weapons, enforcing immigration laws and interdicting a range of cross-border threats, its historic customs responsibilities are “equally important.” He noted that his experience as a police chief has taught him that “law enforcement and commerce are interconnected,” that “commerce depends on a consistent, stable, and predictable environment for business, and [that] law enforcement plays a critical role in creating and protecting those conditions.” He also said he intends to build on the “real strides” CBP has made in recent years to modernize, simplify and make more uniform its trade and business processes by, among other things, taking the following steps.

- continuing to prioritize completion of the Automated Commercial Environment and the International Trade Data System

- modernizing CBP’s export process to streamline exports and foster growth for U.S. companies

- focusing CBP’s enforcement resources to protect U.S. producers from unfair competition, ensure that innovative national technologies and brand names are protected from threats, and protect domestic consumers from unsafe, substandard products

- eliminating paperwork, expanding enrollment in trusted traveler programs and deploying technology to minimize wait times at ports of entry

- addressing morale challenges identified within CBP by providing sustained leadership attention to the training, development and effective management of agency employees

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