August 11, 2011

FTZ Board Update - Changes to Annual Report Process

We are announcing today (8/11/2011) our implementation of changes in the procedures and timing for submission of grantees' annual reports to the FTZ Board. (This information is also being e-mailed directly to zone grantees.) In May and September 2009, we published notices inviting public comment on proposed revisions to the format of annual reports. The changes we are now implementing reflect the published notices as well as the comments that were received in response to those notices.

The key changes are:

1) Beginning with the 2011 reports, all reports will need to be submitted via an online system we have mentioned in previous updates (OFIS - the Online FTZ Information System).

2) The reporting period for the annual report will now be the calendar year (January 1 through December 31). The due date for submission of reports will be March 31, so your 2011 report will not be due until March 31, 2012 (the 2011 report will cover January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011). Requests for extensions will continue to be considered on their merits.

3) Operators will be able to indicate if their data are considered "business proprietary" (in which case any public reports generated based on that data will only indicate ranges into which the data fall).

4) Reports will also incorporate a limited number of format changes (which were published for comment in 2009).

The details are as follows:

The FTZ Staff has been finalizing an online annual report submission system, which is part of the Online FTZ Information System (OFIS). The changes to the annual report format and reporting period are being rolled out together with the switch to the online system. OFIS is now available on our website at:

http://ita-web.ita.doc.gov/FTZ/OFISLogin.nsf

We will be conducting free webinars in the coming months to train grantees and operators on use of the new system, and a tutorial will be available in OFIS. We will also have support staff ready to assist you one-on-one, as needed.

In the meantime, here are key points for a grantee to know and to forward to its operators:

1) Based on comments received, the reporting period for annual reports is being shifted to the calendar year. The 2011 report will include activity and shipments from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011. As a result, beginning with the 2011 report, the due date for a grantee's submission of its annual report is being shifted to March 31 of the year following the reporting period. (The due date will now be three months after the end of the reporting period, rather than the current four months, because we will no longer need to take into account time lost by organizations during the holiday season.) Each grantee should contact its operators to inform them of the change in the reporting period and the date by which the grantee will need to receive the operators' information so that the grantee's report to the FTZ Board can be completed on time.

2) Beginning with the 2011 report, each operator must submit its report to the grantee through OFIS. The grantee, in turn, will use OFIS to submit its zone's report (due March 31, 2012) to the FTZ Board.

3) Each grantee will soon receive an email with a user ID and password to log into OFIS. After logging in, the grantee can request operator accounts for each of its active FTZ operators (this includes general-purpose zone and subzone operators). Operators will be able to input their annual report information directly into OFIS. The grantee will then be able to review and, if needed, edit operator submissions prior to submitting the full zone's report to the FTZ Board. A grantee may also choose to input operator data directly into OFIS.

4) For the first time, an operator (or grantee) will be able to indicate that submitted data is "business proprietary." The data would then be broadly ranged in the FTZ Board's report to Congress. (For example, an exact figure of $ 125,000 would be publicly reported as falling into a range of $ 0 to $ 500,000.)

We look forward to working with everyone in the FTZ community to accomplish a successful transition in this key step towards modernizing the FTZ program. If you have any questions on OFIS or the annual report process, do not hesitate to contact Liz Whiteman (202-482-0473, Elizabeth.Whiteman@trade.gov) or Marsha Foust (202-482-5832, Marsha.Foust@trade.gov).

Andrew McGilvray
Executive Secretary and Staff Director
U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board
(202) 482-2862
www.trade.gov/ftz