US Customs delays full rollout of ACE with ‘staggered approach’

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Monday it will be taking “a staggered approach” to the rollout of its “single window” initiative, after many said they simply weren’t ready for the new system.

Full implementation for the single window initiative, otherwise known as the automated commercial environment, or ACE, was originally scheduled for Feb. 28. That schedule has now been staggered, with deadlines for filing electronic entries for some partner government agencies extended to March 31, others to May 28 and others to still-undecided dates later this summer. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration, one of the largest PGAs involved and one that by many accounts has struggled the most with the ongoing transition, has been removed from the calendar altogether.

ACE will allow importers and exporters to share trade documents with government agencies, saving shippers and brokers time and money. But, it’s now the second time in less than 12 months that Customs has tweaked the deadline for its ACE initiative, three years behind schedule and more than $1 billion over budget. Monday’s announcement comes after dozens of brokers, forwarders, importers and exporters lobbied the agency to modify its deadline for the ACE rollout, arguing they were running out of time and more internal agency checks were needed.