Doing Business With U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
General info: CBP<@VM>The CIO file: Charles Armstrong
- By Evamarie C. Socha
- Mar 31, 2004
U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC, 20229
March 1, 2003 Commissioner:
Robert Bonner Employees:
41,001What it does:
The bureau is charged with guarding U.S. borders and enforcing homeland security. It comprises the Customs Service, Border Patrol and inspectors from Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Agriculture Department. Commissioner Bonner has referred to the agency's mission as "twin goals": keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the country and doing so without hindering legitimate trade and travel. It also guards against diseases and pests that could harm agriculture as well as illegal drug trafficking. Major subagencies:
The bureau is part of the Homeland Security Department. Major divisions are Port Security and Trade Compliance Operations, Border Security Operations, and Trade Modernization Through Automation. Its various offices include Field Operations, Border Patrol and International Affairs, among others. Number crunching
U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection2005 request:
$6.2 billion2004 budget:
Department of Homeland Security2005 request:
$40.2 billion 2004 budget:
U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
Acting assistant commissioner for the Office of Information and TechnologyTook the job:
Nov. 1, 2003Hometown:
A daughter, 13, and a son, 11Hobbies:
Travel and golf. "I have a love for architecture. I am very interested in the art and science of designing and erecting buildings, both old and new." Last book read:
"John Adams," by David McCulloughReading now:
"The DaVinci Code," by Dan BrownAlma mater:
Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems from Old Dominion University. A Harvard Senior Executive Fellow, Armstrong also attended courses at MIT.WT: How has technology changed what your agency does?
Armstrong: On any given day, our officers process 1.3 million passengers, 50,000 trucks and containers, 65,000 people, 355,000 vehicles and 2,600 aircraft. They deserve the best tools available to make decisions. They need adequate, timely and reliable information to defend the homeland and ensure the borders are open for business.
The events of Sept. 11 changed the focus and planning efforts of many of our IT systems. The international landscape, characterized by terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and an increasing volume of global trade, has underscored the need to enhance our capabilities to protect America and facilitate trade. To accomplish our mission and support broader national security objectives, and to ensure America's leadership position in the global economy, Customs and Border Protection and other government agencies responsible for border enforcement need an enhanced ability to access a large volume of information, analyze data and turn it into useful information, share information quickly, and make decisions on cargo admittance early, before and at the border. Enhanced automation is critical to the trade community.WT: What are your biggest tech issues now?
Armstrong: With the process of unifying our agency well under way, we have turned our attention to effective integration of our mission support activities. Representatives from this agency, Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been working closely to design and implement a structure for sharing critical mission-support services. DHS and Border and Transportation Security are new factors in our planning and coordination. There are many interdependencies and policy issues, and this office is working with these organizations to integrate them into our support.
We need to keep working with other key DHS components in implementing a shared service and cross-servicing approach to helping customers within DHS and the CBP, with an emphasis on integration, knowledge flow and information sharing for an effective information, science and technology infrastructure.WT: What do you look for in companies with which you are thinking of doing business?
Armstrong: Our acquisition support team conducts market research on vendor capabilities to quickly identify those with unique capabilities or products that CBP may wish to use. Market research is mainly conducted on small-business corporations. CBP requires all software developers and maintainers to be independently certified as either SW-CMM Level 2 or International Standards Organization (ISO) ISO 9001-2000. A company that we do business with will have to have corporate capabilities that will benefit DHS and CBP and have a good track record for delivery.WT: For a company that is new to working with your agency and has something to offer you, where is a good place to start?
Armstrong: Any company coming to work for us should understand our mission and be able to help us achieve our goals. We need to have a good partnership and be able to work with all our contractors. We are collaborating with border and trade agencies and international trade bodies in modernizing our systems. I encourage companies to share their best practices and make recommendations. WT: A year from now, where do you see the agency's technology capabilities?
Armstrong: Major deployments of U.S. Visit, Automated Commercial Environment releases 3 and 4, Free and Secure Trade, the Border Verification System, Trade Act 2002, all of which include hardware and software installation, training staff, and coordination with trade entities will all take place this year. We will continue to deploy additional and improved X-ray and gamma-ray imaging systems to detect contraband in cargo transported by land, sea and air. We will improve container security with the second phase of the Smart and Secure Container Program development effort.
CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement tactical communications resources will be combined into a single, shared services program structure. We are expanding use of an electronic manifest to all carriers and all air, sea and rail ports plus land border in-bond capability.
We'll expand the Container Security Initiative will be expanded to additional foreign locations, implement interactive processing of passenger data with air carriers, and improve our chemical agent detection devices. We will continue to work with other DHS components to implement a shared service and cross-servicing approach to serving customers, with an emphasis on integration, knowledge flow and sharing for an effective information, science and technology infrastructure.