[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 202 (Wednesday, October 20, 2010)]
[Pages 64737-64741]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-26428]



U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Automated Commercial Environment (ACE): Announcement of a 
National Customs Automation Program Test of Automated Manifest 
Capabilities for Ocean and Rail Carriers

AGENCY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DHS.

ACTION: General notice.


SUMMARY: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be conducting a 
National Customs Automation Program test concerning the transmission of 
required advance ocean and rail data through the Automated Commercial 
Environment (ACE). This notice provides a description of the test 
process, sets forth eligibility criteria for participation, opens the 
application period for participation, outlines the development and 
evaluation methodology to be used, and invites public comments. 
Additionally, this notice advises the public that shortly after the 
successful completion of the test, CBP intends to publish a notice in 
the Federal Register announcing that ACE will be the only CBP-approved 
electronic data interchange (EDI) for submitting advance ocean and rail 
data and intends to amend the regulations as necessary.

DATES: CBP will start accepting applications on October 20, 2010. 
Selected applicants will be notified by CBP and will then undergo a 
certification process to be followed by active testing. The active test 
will commence no earlier than December 22, 2010 and will run for no 
less than 90 days. Comments concerning this notice and all aspects of 
the announced test may be submitted at any time during the test period.

ADDRESSES: Applications to participate in the test should be sent to 
Susan Maskell at [email protected]. Please describe in the body of 
the e-mail any past EDI history with CBP. Written comments concerning 
program and policy issues should be sent to [email protected]. 
Please indicate in the subject line whether the comment relates to 
ocean carriers, rail carriers, or both.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Interested parties should direct any 
questions to their assigned Client Representative. Interested parties 
without an assigned Client Representative should direct their questions 
to the Client Representative Branch at 571-468-5500.



    The National Customs Automation Program (NCAP) was established in 
Subtitle B of Title VI--Customs Modernization, in the North American 
Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 
2057, 2170, December 8, 1993) (Customs Modernization Act). See 19 
U.S.C. 1411. Through NCAP, the initial thrust of customs modernization 
was on trade compliance and the development of the Automated Commercial 
Environment (ACE), the planned successor to the Automated Commercial 
System (ACS). ACE is an automated and electronic system for commercial 
trade processing which is intended to streamline business processes, 
facilitate growth in trade, ensure cargo security, and foster

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participation in global commerce, while ensuring compliance with U.S. 
laws and regulations and reducing costs for U.S. Customs and Border 
Protection (CBP) and all of its communities of interest.
    The ability to meet these objectives depends on successfully 
modernizing CBP's business functions and the information technology 
that supports those functions. CBP's modernization efforts are 
accomplished through phased releases of ACE component functionality 
designed to replace a specific legacy ACS function. Each release will 
begin with a test and will end with mandatory compliance with the new 
ACE feature, thus retiring the legacy ACS function. Each release builds 
on previous releases and sets the foundation for subsequent releases.

Ocean and Rail Data

    This document is announcing a test to allow ocean and rail data to 
be transmitted to ACE. The data includes the advance cargo information 
required by section 343 of the Trade Act of 2002, as amended by the 
Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (see 68 FR 68140, December 
5, 2003), and the advance data ocean carriers are required to provide 
pursuant to the importer security filing and additional carrier 
requirements interim final rule, commonly known as 10 + 2 (see 73 FR 
71730, November 25, 2008).\1\ Currently, this information is required 
to be transmitted via ACS in advance of arrival through a CBP-approved 
electronic data interchange (EDI). For ocean and rail carriers, the 
CBP-approved EDI is the Automated Manifest System (AMS). Ocean carriers 
use Vessel AMS and rail carriers use Rail AMS and the data is 
transmitted using one of the following AMS-compatible software data 
standards: ANSI X12, CAMIR, UN/EDIFACT, or BAPLIE. Currently, brokers 
submitting the advance data required by 10 + 2 use the Automated Broker 
Interface (ABI)-compatible software data standard known as CATAIR. See 
the Implementation of the Test section below for further explanation 
concerning the different software data standards.

    \1\ For specific information about the requirements to provide 
advance cargo information to CBP, please see the following sections 
of title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR): 4.7 Inward 
foreign manifest; production on demand; contents and form; advance 
filing of cargo declaration; 4.7a Inward manifest; information 
required; alternative forms; 4.7c Vessel stow plan; 4.7d Container 
status messages, 123.91 Electronic information for rail cargo 
required in advance of arrival; and part 149 Importer Security 

    As explained in further detail below, test participants will retain 
all of their current functionality. However, test participants will 
receive the additional benefits and functionality ACE provides. The 
deployment of ocean and rail manifest data through ACE continues to lay 
the foundation for a multimodal database that will eventually host all 
modes of transportation, including air.
    Upon commencement of this test, ACE will be the system of record 
for ocean and rail data at all ports for test participants, therefore 
replacing ACS as their system of record. See ACE Systems of Record 
Notice (71 FR 3109), published in the Federal Register on January 19, 
2006. As such, the creation and maintenance of specified data elements 
will originate in ACE and will be distributed to other CBP systems.

Authorization for the Test

    The Customs Modernization Act provides the Commissioner of CBP with 
authority to conduct limited test programs or procedures designed to 
evaluate planned components of the NCAP. This test is authorized 
pursuant to Sec.  101.9(b) of the CBP Regulations (19 CFR 101.9(b)) 
which provides for the testing of NCAP programs or procedures. This 
test is being conducted pursuant to this authority.

Implementation of the Test

    With the publication of this notice CBP will begin accepting 
applications from all transmitters of required advance ocean and rail 
data who wish to participate in the test. Interested applicants should 
contact Susan Maskell ([email protected]) in the form of an e-mail 
stating their qualifications based on the below referenced selection 
criteria, past EDI history with CBP, and their technical 
specifications. The e-mail should also include a point of contact. 
Applications will be accepted throughout the duration of the test and 
will be processed in the order in which they are received. Test 
participants will be chosen based on the selection criteria established 
by CBP (explained below in the Test Participant Selection Criteria 
section) and will be notified directly if they are chosen to 
participate in the initial test.
    Currently, AMS and ABI users are responsible for developing or 
procuring AMS or ABI-compatible software for transmitting the required 
advance data to CBP. The following is a list of current AMS or ABI-
compatible software:
     ANSI X12--The proprietary EDI data standard of the 
American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This is the standard 
currently used by most rail and many ocean AMS transmitters.
     CAMIR--Customs Automated Manifest Interface Requirements. 
This is the CBP proprietary EDI data standard developed to allow ocean 
manifest transmitters a standard format to send their data to CBP.
     UN/EDIFACT--The United Nations Electronic Data Interchange 
for Administration of Commerce and Transport. This is the EDI data 
standard developed and maintained by the United Nations.
     BAPLIE--Bayplan/Stowage Plan Occupied and Empty Locations. 
This is a data message set of the UN/EDIFACT EDI data format to 
standardize the transmission of stowage plans associated with 
containerized cargo.
     CATAIR--Customs And Trade Automated Interface 
Requirements. This is a CBP proprietary EDI data standard used 
primarily for the ABI but also used for in-bond transactions, ISF, and 
customhouse broker queries of CBP manifest systems.

Test Participant Selection Criteria

    CBP has selected its criteria for test participants to include each 
type of current transmitter of required advance data for ocean and rail 
and each type of AMS or ABI-compatible software during the test to 
ensure compatibility with ACE. Specifically, CBP is looking for test 
participants to include:
     2-3 Ocean Carriers. At least one must be filing manifests 
and transmitting unified manifest/ISF data using X12 and one must be 
using CAMIR message formats. Carrier applicants must also be submitting 
stow plans via BAPLIE (UN/EDIFACT).
     2 Service Centers. One using X12 message formats and one 
using CAMIR message formats. Each service center must have at least one 
client filing manifests and transmitting unified manifest/ISF data and 
who is also submitting stow plans via BAPLIE (UN/EDIFACT).
     1 Port Authority. Preferably one that both sends and 
receives data.
     2 Terminal Operators. One using X12 message formats and 
one using CAMIR message formats.
     2-3 Rail Carriers. At least one from the Northern Border 
and one from the Southern Border.
     1-2 ABI filers currently filing the following information 
electronically: In-bond applications (ABI Applications, commonly known 
as ``QP/WP''), Bill of Lading Update (ABI Application ``LN''), and 
Cargo/Manifest Status Query (ABI Application ``IN'') transactions and 
processing Broker Download (ABI Application ``BD'') and Status 
Notifications (ABI Application ``NS'').

[[Page 64739]]

     2-3 stand-alone ISF filers. This will ensure that both X12 
and CAMIR message formats are represented.
    Additional Eligibility Requirements:
     Participant must be a current AMS EDI transmitter for 
ocean or rail modes of transportation using ANSI X12 or the CAMIR 
interfaces or an ABI transmitter using the CATAIR interface for in-bond 
transactions (QP/WP);
     Participant must have, or agree to establish, an ACE 
Secure Data Portal account; and
     Participant must have their software ready to test with 
CBP once CBP begins the certification process.
    CBP will post the appropriate standards needed to enable each 
specific type of AMS or ABI-compatible software to work with ACE on the 
CBP.gov Web site approximately 90 days prior to the start of the active 
test stage. This will enable transmitters of the required advance ocean 
and rail data to conform their own software or acquire new software 
that is compatible with ACE, in anticipation of ACE becoming the only 
CBP-approved EDI for submitting required ocean and rail data.

I. Certification Stage

    Applicants will be notified of their selection as participants. 
After notification, CBP will begin a certification process with the 
participants. The certification process is the first step towards being 
able to utilize ACE and it consists of two preliminary tests designed 
to ensure the successful transmission of data through ACE: The systems 
interface test and the software test.
    The systems interface test is used to verify the accuracy of the 
participant's communications software and hardware. Any communications 
problems encountered during the test will be resolved. A pre-defined 
test scenario must be followed by each participant to evaluate its 
software's effectiveness in transmitting and receiving manifest, site, 
user, and other data. The systems interface test is complete when the 
participant has retrieved and verified CBP-created client-specific 
files from the ACE database.
    The software test allows final adjustments to the participant's 
system and provides an opportunity for error detection without risk to 
the ACE production system. CBP will process sample messages and 
generate error messages, reject messages, and status notifications. The 
software test is complete when the participant has demonstrated that 
its software is able to transmit sample manifests, various messages, 
amendments, and General Order (GO) status replies according to 
established test procedures.

II. Active Test Stage

    After completion of the certification process, but no earlier than 
December 22, 2010, CBP will deploy ACE ocean and rail functionality 
capabilities for the initial group of test participants. Throughout the 
test, CBP will maintain communication with the participants in order to 
receive comments, address issues, and measure the functionality of ACE.

ACE Functionality

    Test participants will retain all of the existing functionality 
currently available through ACS, including the capability to:
     Submit ocean bills of lading and rail preliminary and 
transit bills of lading;
     Report conveyance itinerary for ocean and rail 
     Process conveyance arrivals and departures for ocean and 
     Process in-bond arrivals and exports;
     Process consist information for rail;
     Process general order transactions;
     Manage holds on bills of lading, conveyances, in-bond 
moves, empty equipment;
     Report Freight Remaining On Board;
     Process automated line release for rail cargo;
     Process permit to transfer requests;
     Submit Bio-Terrorism Act prior notification data for the 
Food and Drug Administration;
     Receive general order, overdue for arrival or export in-
bond advisories;
     Share status notifications with other trade partners;
     Process transfer of liability requests between bonded 
     Request that bill of lading data be sent to entry filers 
to expedite cargo clearance;
     Receive entry advisories in advance of arrival;
     Add secondary in-bond movements;
     Receive shipment status advice from other Federal 
agencies; and
     Submit vessel stowage plans.
    In addition to the above-referenced capabilities, the following new 
functionalities will be available through ACE:
     Broker Download
    The broker download functionality, currently available for rail 
transportation, will be available for ocean transportation as well. The 
broker download process allows for the EDI conversion of the carrier 
bill of lading that CBP receives in advance of shipment arrival into 
the CATAIR record format used by participants in the CBP ABI 
application. ACE will send the ABI formatted bill of lading to the 
customs broker designated in the bill of lading. The broker download 
serves as an electronic ``notification'' for the broker that a shipment 
is incoming. This will expedite the cargo clearance process at the port 
of arrival.
     Holds at the Container Level
    CBP will have the ability to place and remove holds at the 
container level. This will allow one container to be held and the 
balance of the containers on the bill of lading to be moved to the 
premises of the importer pending final delivery authorization from CBP.
     Expansion of Shipment Status Disposition Codes
    The shipment status disposition code will be expanded to three 
positions to accommodate the participation of additional Federal 
Agencies that will use ACE under the International Trade Data System 
(ITDS) initiative of the ACE project. While this new EDI functionality 
is being announced in this Notice, this expansion to three positions 
will not be part of the initial commencement of this test, but will 
occur sometime thereafter. The expansion will be communicated to CBP 
trade partners well in advance through CSMS, publication of 
implementation guides on cbp.gov and outreach through trade 
associations and liaison groups.
     Enhanced Transaction Sets
    The migration to the new ACE system will require changes to the EDI 
transaction sets that are used between CBP and the trade to send and 
receive cargo data and shipment status notifications. These changes 
will allow CBP to provide significantly more discrete and specific 
error messages that will allow the transmitter to quickly amend and 
resubmit. Error messages may be provided for multiple lines and 
specifically identify sections of submissions containing errors. 
Standardized system edits will be added to reduce the amount of 
customized coding that was previously required. All updated transaction 
sets will be posted to the CBP.gov Web site. Information regarding any 
changes to the ocean and/or rail manifest transaction sets will also be 
communicated via CSMS.

ACE Portal Account Enhancements

    On October 18, 2007, CBP published a Notice in the Federal Register 
(72 FR 59105) announcing, among other things, the establishment of 
carrier portal accounts for all modes of transportation, including 
ocean and rail carriers. Carriers interested in establishing ocean

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and/or rail portal accounts were requested to provide CBP with their 
Standard Carrier Alpha Code (SCAC) and method of transportation (i.e., 
ocean, rail). Upon establishment of those accounts, ocean and rail 
carriers were advised that they would only have access to the static 
data and basic account profile information necessary to establish their 
portal account.
    For participants of this test, ocean and rail portal carrier 
accounts will now also have the following additional capabilities:
     Conveyance Maintenance for Ocean Carriers
    Ocean portal carrier account users will have the ability to create 
and maintain vessel data via the portal using portal input screens and/
or using the Excel spreadsheet upload capability. Ocean portal carrier 
account users will also have the ability to download their vessel data 
into the Excel spreadsheet.
     Custodial Bond Authorization and Verification
    The bond authorization capability will be managed by the principal 
of the custodial bond (i.e., the bonded carrier) to cover the movement 
of in-bond cargo between CBP ports of entry. Via the ACE Portal, the 
bond principal will be able to designate (by either the SCAC or ABI 
Filer code) those entities that are authorized to obligate the bond 
principal's custodial bond. A date range for this authorization is also 
available. Additionally, the bond principal will be able to set one of 
two levels of authorization:
    1. All Ports: This level of authorization allows the bond principal 
to grant an authorized user the authority to obligate its Activity Code 
2 custodial bond for the movement of in-bond cargo between all CBP 
ports, with the optional feature of setting an expiration date. If the 
bond principal chooses the optional expiration date, the permission to 
obligate the custodial bond expires at midnight on the expiration date.
    2. Specific Ports: This level of authorization allows the bond 
principal to grant an authorized user the authority to obligate its 
bond for the movement of in-bond cargo between specified CBP ports, 
with an optional feature of setting an expiration date. There is no 
limit to how many port pairings the bond principal can establish for 
the authorized user. If the bond principal chooses the optional 
expiration, the permission to obligate the custodial bond expires at 
midnight on the expiration date.
    The new custodial bond authorized user verification functionality 
is an optional feature of this test and will only work with entities 
that are also ACE test participants. This functionality will not apply 
to bonds authorized via AMS. Custodial bond principals that do not want 
to invoke this new authorized user validation feature need not create 
any authorized user records. In the absence of any authorized user 
records associated to a custodial bond, the bond principal may enter 
its own SCAC Code as the only authorized user in its account. Such 
processing is consistent with current custodial bond verifications in 
the legacy ACS ocean and rail manifest and QP/WP software applications 
and truck QP/WP software applications. A bonded carrier may restrict 
all other entities from obligating its bond by entering its own SCAC 
code as the only authorized user in its account.
    Conversely, as soon as one party is added as an authorized user to 
this new ``custodial bond user verification'' file, the principal of 
the custodial bond must enter authorizing records for each of the 
parties that is allowed to invoke its custodial bond. For example, if a 
custodial bond principal allows four other parties to obligate its 
bond, the bond principal must enter authorizations for each one of the 
four parties. If the bond principal chooses not to allow any party to 
obligate its custodial bond, then the bond principal must enter its own 
SCAC Code as the only authorized user in its account.
    ACE will continuously verify that the party attempting to obligate 
a custodial bond is authorized to do so. If the party obligating the 
custodial bond is NOT the bond owner, ACE will check the data base of 
authorized users on that bond. If the party using the custodial bond is 
not authorized, the bill of lading submission or ABI electronic in bond 
request (commonly known as ``QP''), will be rejected back to the data 
processing site of origination with the following error message, ``Not 
Authorized To Use Custodial Bond.'' A message will also be sent to the 
bond owner identifying the bill of lading number and the coded identity 
of the party that attempted to invoke the bond.
     Report Capability
    Ocean and rail portal carrier account users will have the ability 
to run various standard bill of lading, in-bond, manifest, and 
equipment reports. Carrier account users will also be able to modify 
standard reports as well as create customized reports from scratch. 
Reports can be saved to a ``Shared Folder'' for use by others within 
the account.
    All data submitted and entered into the ACE Portal is subject to 
the Trade Secrets Act (18 U.S.C. 1905) and is considered confidential, 
except to the extent as otherwise provided by law (see 19 U.S.C. 
1431(c)). Participation in this or any of the previous ACE tests is not 
confidential and upon a written Freedom of Information Act request, a 
name(s) of an approved participant(s) will be disclosed by CBP in 
accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552.

III. Expansion of the Test for All AMS Transmitters Not Chosen 

    Once the initial group of participants has demonstrated the 
capability to operate in ACE in the active test stage, CBP intends to 
expand the number of test participants until all interested ocean and 
rail transmitters are participating in the test. This expansion will be 
done on a rolling basis, beginning some time around the start of the 
active test stage for the initial group of participants. All ocean and 
rail transmitters not using ACE, including applicants not chosen to 
participate in the initial test group, will be contacted via CBP.gov, 
CSMS, and other trade outreach efforts to determine their interest in 
participating in the test. Later added participants must follow the 
same procedures as those explained above in Section I--Certification 
Stage and Section II--Active Test Stage.
    CBP's ultimate goal is the full transition of ocean and rail data 
transmission to ACE. This transition would be announced in the Federal 
Register in a manner consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act 
and would occur no earlier than 90 days after the commencement of the 
active test stage. As indicated, the active test stage will start no 
earlier than December 22, 2010.

Misconduct Under the Test

    An ACE test participant may be subject to civil and criminal 
penalties, administrative sanctions, liquidated damages and/or 
suspension from this test for any of the following:
     Failure to follow the terms and conditions of this test;
     Failure to exercise reasonable care in the execution of 
participant obligations;
     Failure to abide by applicable laws and regulations;
     Misuse of the ACE Portal;
     Engagement in any unauthorized disclosure or access to the 
ACE Portal; and
     Engagement in any activity which interferes with the 
successful evaluation of the new technology.
    A notice proposing suspension will be provided in writing to the 
participant. Such notice will apprise the participant of the facts or 
conduct warranting suspension and will inform the

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participant of the date that the suspension will begin.
    Any decision proposing suspension of a participant may be appealed 
in writing to the Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, 
within 15 calendar days of the notification date. Should the 
participant appeal the notice of proposed suspension, the participant 
must address the facts or conduct charges contained in the notice and 
state how compliance will be achieved. In cases of willful misconduct 
or where public health interests or safety is concerned, the suspension 
may be effective immediately.

Test Evaluation Criteria

    To ensure adequate feedback, participants are required to 
participate in an evaluation of this test. CBP also invites all 
interested parties to comment on the design, implementation and 
functionality of ACE or the test program at any time during the test 
period. CBP will publish the final results in the Federal Register and 
the Customs Bulletin as required by 19 CFR 101.9(b).
    CBP will use questionnaires to address such issues as:
     Problem resolution;
     System efficiency;
     Operational issues; and
     Other issues identified by the participants.

Next Steps

    Shortly after the successful completion of the test, but no earlier 
than March 22, 2011, CBP plans to publish a notice in the Federal 
Register announcing that ACE will be the only CBP-approved EDI for 
required advance ocean and rail data.

    Dated: October 15, 2010.
Thomas Winkowski,
Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations.
[FR Doc. 2010-26428 Filed 10-19-10; 8:45 am]