U.S. Customs and Border Protection has cancelled the Trade Support Network's plenary session scheduled for Feb. 26-28 in Baltimore, according to an e-mail from the ACE Business Office to TSN members.
No reason for the cancellation was given in the message and there was no mention of alternative dates in the future, but a spokeswoman said the agency had difficulty securing a venue.
The TSN is a group of about 300 trade compliance professionals divided into committees that meets regularly to provide input about procedures, systems requirements, policies and other issues associated with the development of the Automated Commercial Environment. The much-maligned database and computer system, designed to process all types of commercial trade documents and act as a communication platform between government agencies and importers and exports, is years behind schedule. Many pieces have been deployed in stages and are functioning.
The last TSN plenary session was held in September 2011. Early last decade it was common for the meetings to be held annually.
One factor that could make finding a venue and hosting a conference more difficult is a White House directive last fall to tighten oversight of government participation in such events after news broke in early 2012 about the General Services Administration scandal in which employees attending a conference in Las Vegas engaged in lavish spending. The waste prompted hearings on Capitol Hill and several bills were introduced, but not enacted, to curb spending for participating in industry conferences.
The White House has instructed agencies to reduce spending on conferences by 30 percent and established spending caps for conferences that involved employee travel. - Eric Kulisch