July 16, 2010

FTZ Board Grantee Update

This latest e-mail update to grantees on developments in the FTZ program focuses on three topics:

- Grantee outreach events in Philadelphia (8/10) and Syracuse (8/12)

- Updated assignments for certain FTZ Staff Regional Representatives

- Status of our automation project for zone site lists (including some instances where existing sites require renumbering) and annual report submissions

FIRST, my staff and I are continuing our series of regional grantee outreach sessions to provide training and to discuss in a small-group setting any topics or issues of interest to you. Our next outreach sessions are scheduled for Philadelphia, PA on August 10 and Syracuse, NY on August 12. Details will be on our web site - www.trade.gov/ftz - via the link in the "What's New" box. And we also plan to issue direct invitations to grantees from the surrounding regions. We plan additional outreach sessions after October of this year.

SECOND, we have had to make some temporary adjustments to FTZ Staff Regional Representative assignments based on factors outside our control. Therefore, until further notice, Maureen Hinman (Maureen.Hinman@trade.gov; tel. 202-482-0627) who has been covering the Northeast region will also be covering the Southeast region, with the exception of Puerto Rico which will be covered by Camille Evans (Camille.Evans@trade.gov; tel. 202-482-2350). And the responsibilities for the Great Lakes region will be coordinated by Elizabeth Whiteman (Elizabeth.Whiteman@trade.gov; tel. 202-482-0473). These adjustments will also be reflected on our website. As always, do not hesitate to reach out to these regional contacts with questions or concerns that you may have.

THIRD, our "Online FTZ Information System" (OFIS) project continues to make steady progress. This project will involve automation both of the submission of data for the FTZ Board's Annual Report to Congress (via web-based interfaces and user accounts for grantees and operators) and of the information regarding every FTZ site (including scans of site maps). Having key information on the web for all FTZ sites will be a huge step forward for our entire program! Our preparation for automation of site information also coincides with our need to regularize site information for certain FTZs as part of the implementation of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system. FYI, the ACE system will only accept two-digit numeric site designations - such as Site "10" - and each distinct location must have its own site number. As a result, any sites with other numbering styles - like Site "T-1" or Site "2A" - as well as unrelated parcels that might now share a single site number will need to have their designations modified to meet the ACE standards.

Our Regional Representatives have already contacted some of the zones that have at least one site requiring renumbering to discuss our proposed solutions for meeting the ACE requirements. Our goal is to complete this process by the end of the summer. The key is that by our staff engaging the grantee up front - and also engaging local CBP as needed if any active FTZ sites are involved - we should be able to accomplish the limited number of necessary modifications with minimal burden and disruption. And I want to emphasize that no modifications to site numbering will take place without our staff first having contacted the zone's grantee.

Regarding the other aspects of the upcoming OFIS system - and especially the web interface for submission of annual report data - we will plan on future e-mails devoted to more detailed updates. In addition, we will plan on free webinars and similar training opportunities once the OFIS system is ready for use by the grantee community. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact your regional representative with any questions you may have.

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