United States Customs Service


United States Customs Service

Mission Statement

Customs is one of those agencies with a more expansive mission and the agency has experienced both the advantages and disadvantages that accompany the broader scope. Customs current five year plan reemphasizes our mission:

As the Nations' principal border agency, the mission of the United States Customs Service is to ensure that all goods entering and exiting the United States do so in accordance with all United States laws and regulations. This mission includes:

-- Enforcing U.S. laws intended to prevent illegal trade practices;

-- Protecting the American public and environment from the introduction of prohibited hazardous and noxious products;

-- Assessing and collecting revenues in the form of duties, taxes and fees on imported merchandise;

-- Regulating the movement of persons, carriers, merchandise and commodities between the United States and other nations while facilitating the movement of all legitimate cargo, carriers, travelers, and mail;

-- Interdicting narcotics and other contraband; and,

-- Enforcing certain provisions of the export control laws of the United States.

For 200 years, Customs officers have used a similar statement of mission in protecting our borders. The challenge today is to derive from the broad charter a vision to guide and inspire our employees. This is neither an easy nor a one-time task.

Deriving the Vision

Customs derives its vision from the law, the mission, the priorities of the Administration and the Congress, and the needs of our customers. We use a variety of techniques and sources, e.g., interviews with customers and stakeholders, the media, our strategic planning process, and review of Congressional and Executive Branch proceedings. Developing the vision depends on the dynamic, ongoing, and sometimes messy process wherein Customs matches its mission and capabilities against the needs of the nation and our customers. As a result of this process, the following vision has been proposed for the Customs Service.

-- To achieve compliance with Customs and other agency laws at the border at a rate approaching 100% by the end of the century.

Achieving this goal will protect industries from predatory trade practices, ensure the health, safety, and security of our citizens, protect the environment, and provide accurate and timely statistics on international trade. Our predominant method of operation will be to work effectively with the business community and other federal agencies to enable people and commerce to voluntarily comply with requirements for legal entry into the United States. However, at the same time, we will direct special investigative efforts toward thwarting attempts to smuggle substances into the country that threaten public health and safety. Process management , partnerships with our customers, informed compliance, investigations and intelligence, automation, and compliance measurement will be the tools used to achieve this goals.

-- To become the most facultative Customers Service in the world.

The U.S. is the world's largest trader and a world-wide champion of free trade. U.S. Customs should serve as a role model for border agencies throughout the world by maintaining the highest compliance and enforcement rates, while using the latest electronic technology to clear passengers and cargo more expeditiously than any other customs service in the world. In most cases, this will mean clearance before arrival in the U.S. As other more restrictive and deliberately protectionist Customs administrations such as China and Japan follow our lead, U.S. exports will receive fairer treatment. Partnerships with our customers, advanced information, automation, and compliance measurement will be the tools used to achieve this goal.

-- To form partnerships with our customers in industry and government to meet our compliance, enforcement, and facilitation goals.

Establishing partnerships means recognizing all of our customers, accepting them as extensions of our agency, determining and understanding their needs, devising strategies responsive to their needs, and measuring our performance in addressing their needs. We commit to improving our nation's effectiveness in combating international drug trafficking and money laundering by pledging to cooperate with any organization public or private, international or domestic, that is committed to the fight. Process management, on-going customer feedback mechanisms, shared data systems, data exchanges, and task force arrangements will be the tools and techniques we will use to determine customer needs, meet customer requirements, and serve as the basis for partnership.

-- To become the nation's supplier of international trade information.

Success in business and government is achieved by those with access to the most accurate and timely information. The Customs Service has a powerful base of technological achievement which we can build upon to provide this edge for the business and governmental interests of the United States that intersect at our borders. our goal will be the creation of ITIS which will make the Customs Service the nation's provider of reliable, timely and comprehensive import/export statistics, and other information related to trade and travel.

The vision proposed in this report forms the basis for the development of strategies, goals and objectives that will effectively serve the Customs Service through the end of this century and beyond. In order to move toward this vision, Customs will attempt to create the best working environment in government, one which will allow our employees to make their maximum contribution to the goals of our agency and the government. We value our people and the diversity they bring. We are committed to identifying their concerns and implementing strategies to address their needs. We have established a partnership with NTEU. We will clarify the roles of all employees and organizational units, and emphasize cross-functional teams as tools and techniques to achieve our vision.

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