U.S. Customs and Border Protection is conducting multiple experiments and technology demonstrations as part of an ongoing initiative to modernize its revenue collection process. CBP is also working to track the implementation of more than a dozen revenue modernization recommendations offered by the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee earlier this year.
CBP states that its current processes for collecting duties, taxes, and fees are slow, inefficient, and opaque because they are supported by fragmented and decentralized databases, manual spreadsheets, and manual labor-intensive processes. The revenue modernization initiative seeks to eliminate these inefficiencies and provide (1) modern online billing, collection, and payment options that are secure and accurate and (2) operational efficiencies at ports of entry through the use of mobile applications, improved cash register software, intelligent safes, etc. CBP believes the benefits of this initiative will include lowering transaction costs and administrative burdens that delay cargo and traveler movements; improving the agency’s ability to provide filers with an accurate, consolidated view of their financial transactions; and gaining access to real-time, reliable financial and operational data that will better inform decision-making and aid compliance with existing and emerging reporting requirements.
CBP’s ongoing revenue modernization efforts include the following.
- Mobile collections and receipts, which automate the manual paper receipt process for maritime arrival fees, are being evaluated at four ports and could see added functionalities in the future.
- CBP is evaluating at two ports the impact on officers’ time of smart safes, which count cash, scan cash to avoid accepting counterfeits, and automatically deposit cash in the bank.
- Electronic payment option will allow customs brokers, agents, vessel owners, trade and travel representatives, or individuals to pay (non-entry summary) fees, taxes, or duties electronically or online. CBP is currently focusing on processing triennial broker fees, which may be submitted via pay.gov for the submission period that opens Dec. 15.
- Agricultural inspection overtime reimbursement bills automate overtime billing and have saved 1,700 CBP labor hours for more than 20,000 bills created to date.
Concurrently, CBP is engaging with the trade and travel communities to share its findings about the capability gaps, challenges, and modernization requirements for revenue collections; solicit their input on best practices employed by other countries and determine whether they could be duplicated in the U.S.; and evaluate experiments and technology demonstrations to determine whether any revisions are needed to improve efficiency or address problems. Potential legislative changes that may be needed to support revenue modernization are also being discussed.