Holding pattern: The government shutdown and the supply chain

Cargo Inspection customs

The US government went into partial shutdown mode on December 22, 2018, crippling 9 departments and several federal agencies, and bringing about the longest government shutdown in US history.  With over 800,000 federal employees affected across the following departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, Transportation and Treasury, those deemed as “essential” have been required to work without pay. 

So what does this mean for supply chains? Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and TSA agents are considered essential personnel and are continuing to operate at ports of entry around the country.

While there were rumblings from over the weekend of some passenger terminal delays due to TSA staffing issues, there have not been any significant delays reported as a result of the government shutdown as it relates to cargo clearance, etc.

Here is a current recap of the status of transportation-related agencies and the shutdown:  

  • CBP employees still working include CEE directors and assistant directors, entry specialists, import specialists, some information technology staff (though not ABI representatives), and Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures staff, but any national account managers have been furloughed.
  • Entry liquidations are still being done, though without refunds where applicable, and the Automated Clearinghouse is fully functional for duty payments.
  • CBP has halted work on rulings (though the eRulings portal is still accepting requests), regulatory audits, and refunds (e.g., drawback, protests, post-summary corrections, though interest will eventually be paid where applicable).
  • CBP is still enforcing deadlines for the trade community (e.g., protest and drawback claims, CF 28/29 responses, Enforce and Protect Act duty evasion proceedings, audits) but its own responses may not be held to normal timelines.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is largely shut down but CBP has a protocol for handling critical EPA-regulated cargo release issues through port of entry or CEE officials.
      - Food and Drug Administration trade functions such as prior notice processing are continuing to operate.
  • C-TPAT security validation visits/processing do not occur during a shutdown.
  • 2019 schedule b Numbers was not incorporated into ACE and a certain group of numbers has caused the rejection of the EEI filings. At this time the government agencies have been notified however an update will not take place until the furlough has ended.  Please keep watch of these EEI filings to avoid any delays with cargo loading. 
  • No Export licensing (Bureau of Industry Security or State Department) is taking place at this time.

With no resolutions to the shutdown in sight, we in the supply chain world, along with countless other businesses and industries, remain in a holding pattern. As always, if you have any specific questions or concerns about your shipments and any possible residual effects of the shutdown, please reach out to me directly