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New CBP Chief Says Spending Bill Should Ease Service Disruptions

Wednesday, April 03, 2013
By Shawn McCausland
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski indicated this week that flexibility made available in a fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill signed into law last month should ease the service disruptions agency officials had warned of under the federal spending cuts (sequestration) that took effect March 1. Winkowski reportedly told CBP staff in an email that “although the budget reductions imposed by sequestration are significant, the [appropriations bill’s] provisions allow CBP to mitigate to some degree the impacts of the reduced budget on operations and on CBP’s workforce.”

Specifically, CBP will postpone implementation of the personnel furloughs and elimination of planned overtime that had been slated to take effect this month, which the agency had said could result in problems such as container examination delays of up to five days or more at major seaports and significant daily back-ups for truck shipments at land border ports of entry. CBP has also cautioned that if the sequestration continues there could be eventual delays in providing advice and rulings as well as negative impacts on strategic initiatives such as the Automated Commercial Environment and the rollout of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise.

Winkowski said that while CBP is re-evaluating its budget in light of the FY 2013 spending bill employees should “continue to proceed in a manner which ensures that we are able to carry out our national security mandate.”

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