U.S. Customs is eager for another industry expert to join its ACE development team after the successful run of former customs broker and forwarder Cindy Allen, Assistant Commissioner for International Trade Allen Gina said Monday at the fall government affairs conference of the National Customs Brokers and Fowarders Association of America.
Customs and Border Protection has posted a vacancy announcement
for the ACE Business Office executive director following last month's announcement that Allen is leaving the agency after more than two years.
The Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE, is a large information technology project underway to automate and consolidate import and export processing. ACE will be the central access point that connects CBP, the trade community and other government agencies and gives agency personnel tools to analyze data to make enforcement and security decisions. ACE development got sidetracked by many change orders, leading to delays and cost overruns that led Congress to decrease its funding.
Allen and a team of CBP policy and technical specialists are credited with getting the project back on track by setting new priorities, rolling out functions in small chunks and applying stricter cost discipline.
CBP "was very blessed" to have Allen because her expertise about the trade helped identify software requirements, Gina said. She "helped us right that ship."
Commissioner David Aguilar "clearly sees the value of having someone with industry experience" in that post, Gina told American Shipper
after his keynote address. Another agency official concurred that the commissioner would like to have an outside voice in the ACE office.
The vacancy announcement is open to internal and external candidates.
As previously reported
, Brenda Brockman Smith, executive director of trade policy and programs, has been moved over to handle Allen's job.
In his speech, Gina said Smith will backfill for Allen on a temporary basis until a full-time replacement is found. She has worked closely with Allen and is very familiar with the ACE development process.
Gina said John Leonard, director of CBP's textile/apparel policy and programs division, has been transferred to serve as Smith's temporary replacement. Leonard is also a former port director. - Eric Kulisch