Dan Dreyfus, global customs leader with EY, discusses how government agencies can embrace digitization of supply chain processes, in partnership with the private sector.
Multiple government agencies have a role in overseeing the flow of trade across borders. In the U.S., there are more than 50 of them with statutory, legal or regulatory responsibilities, and other countries have at least three or four, says Dreyfus.
There have been many efforts to streamline regulatory processes over the years, including the establishment of a “single window” for submission of import documents to multiple agencies. But progress toward that end has been slow. “In many cases, it’s still something that’s not completely attained,” says Dreyfus, noting that a number of U.S. agencies have yet to participate fully in the program. The same holds true of regulatory bodies in other countries, where paper documents are still required.
What agencies need to do now to expedite trade is digitize processes. And that means more than simply automating relevant documents. “Agencies and the private sector need to assess what’s really needed — prioritize the data flow and put into place processes that allow them to accept data differently.,” says Dreyfus. And that requires a rethinking of the entire system, including retraining the workforce.
Dreyfus says government agencies can learn from the private sector, as well as collaborate with businesses, on automating processes that control the movement of cargo at multiple points. Still, with congestion a serious and ongoing problem at many ports and terminals, the current environment is slowed by intractability on both sides. “Everybody has a little bit of analysis paralysis,” he says.
The current crisis could serve as a wakeup call for all parties, Dreyfus adds, but there’s much more to be done before the regulatory process is sufficiently streamlined.
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