News

Most of you have probably read the CSMS 15-000644.  CBP has actually listened to the trade and their own technical staff and have come up with a reasonable and effective revision to the Ace rollout.
 
To sum up:

  1. Live deadline is now Feb 29th 2016 instead of Nov 1st 2015
  2. Mandatory PGA’s at that time are only FDA, NHTSA and Lacey
  3. By July 16th 2016 all of the other “new” pga’s will become live. We expect to be running pilots for all of these over the next 8 months.
  4. ACS still dies on November 30th 2016

 
What does that change for Xtheta (apart from giving us some breathing room)

 

  • Complete our PGA Pilots for FDA, NHTSA and Lacey.  We are still interested in any clients bring in FDA regulated Cosmetics, Tobacco, Biologics, Radiation emitting devices and animal drugs and devices. We need to run pilots for these products.
  • Circle back and clean up some of the less than optimal code that we have created.  We have designed a much improved PSC model and will be implementing that soon. There are a number of other efficiency recommendation we have received from our clients and these will now be implemented sooner rather than later.
  • Update our EDI specs (Mainx and AII) to accommodate the new PGA feeds. This will hopefully give your clients time to react and modify their programming.
  • Redesign the product database to handle all the PGA’s

 
What does this mean for you brokers out there?

  • Get your customers on board.  This means talking to them to identify where they will be getting the new PGA data fields.  You can run a spreadsheet from our system showing exactly what agencies they need to work with.
  • Make sure your staff are trained.  Key people need to read the appropriate ACE documentation and be prepared to understand the new PGA messaging.
  • If you have any custom EDI programs work with us to see what changes your customers will need to make

 
How about our importers?

  • Check to see what PGA’s you need to worry about
  • If you have any EDI work with Xtheta to change as needed
  • Stay in touch with us on a regular basis


 You are now in an excellent position to move into ACE completely.  In order to make this transition process smoother we will be moving to a weekly update. We understand that this will cause some discomfort for larger users with strict update controls however with the ongoing pace of change we can see no alternative.  If you are not comfortable with this please discuss it with us and we can try and come up with alternative solutions.
 
And may the Force be with you!

The dates for these Pilots vary by port and PGA.  If you want to be involved in a Pilot program there are several steps that you need to take.

  1. Talk to your ABI Rep -- They can tell you what Pilots are available in your port and how to sign up for one.
  2. Give us a call -- We will make sure the correct software is installed on your system.  We will also send you a spreadsheet template identifying all the data you need to collect for the PGA in question.
  3. Take a few minutes and read the ACE Guide -- If the link doesn't work you can find the ACE Guide under the Help & Docs menu. Regular updates to the documentation will continue to be added, so check back often!
  4. Read the Implementation Guide for the PGA you choose -- These guides can be found under the ACE Automated Broker Interface (ABI) and CBP and Trade Automated Interface Requirements (CATAIR). These can be found under the PGA Message Set tab but for your ease of use, here is the direct link. We strongly recommend you read the guide as it contains all the business rules you will need to follow.

Be very aware that these are PILOTS and you should expect to spend a considerable amount of time understanding the new data formats, working with Xtheta, your client rep, the Importer and the PGA representative to make it all work.  Expect there to be problems and that the most common problem will probably be delayed releases.  You should also be very flexible in putting on software updates.  All parties will be fixing problems as they are encountered.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be doing a series of webinars to help showcase some of the features in the newest version of Xcb.   Each webinar will cover a different topic related to the newest version of the software.  

The series is next week with a quick overview of how the Xcb web portal works, and then we dive right into how events and new notification options can help you manage your import/export business better.

For more information - or to sign up, visit the webinar page in our support section.

Change is afoot at XthetaThings are changing for the better

Over the next few months, we’re going to be rolling out a variety of changes that are targeted at improving your experience using our software.  

New Website

If you haven’t had a chance yet – check out our new website!  From integrated product information to important support resources, it’s been completely redesigned to make it easier to find the information you need.  Plus, we've integrated a new feature called “My Xtheta” which puts essential resources at your fingertips.

New Xcb portal

You may have heard that we've done a substantial rewrite of the Xcb web portal.  This new version will be rolling out shortly.  So, over the next few weeks we’re going to be doing a series of webinars to help showcase some of the features in the newest version of Xcb.   Each webinar will cover a different topic related to the newest version of the software.

Here’s the schedule and topics:  

  • Thursday 5/21 at 2pm – Overview & Events/Rules
    What’s new in the system overall (how the UI has changed, integrated help, etc).   Introduction to the new events system as well as new notification options like text messaging and “personal” event rules.
  •    
  • Thursday 5/28 at 2pm – Imaging
    Imaging upload & edit, import from email, & workflows.  New features that will help you go paperless.
  •    
  • Thursday 6/4 at 2pm – Reporting
    Additional reporting options including customers, contacts, event/event rule setup.   Filtering on any field, download live in browser, faster results
  •    
  • Thursday 6/11 at 2pm – ACE PGA status update
    Take a little detour from the new webapp features and find out where things are at with the new PGAs and ACE
  •    
  • Thursday 6/18 at 2pm – Web tracking, mobile views, & dashboard
    Keeping track of multiple versions, having a single view of your data, adding dashboard widgets
  •    
  • Thursday 6/25 at 2pm – Securing your system
    Setting up single sign on, granting/denying access to specific areas or items in the system, C-TPAT & Xcb security

Full call-in / sign up details will be posted on our website.    We’ll also plan to record the webinars for those who can’t make it.

ACE PGA statusWhat you really need to know about ACE PGAs

Over the last 5 months, we have spent many hours working with CBP and the PGA's to help build the Implementation Guides for each agency.   By the end of May, CBP expects to publish the guides for all the agencies that will be live on November 1st.  Pilots will be announced in Federal Register notices, and we expect many will start in July.

We’ll keep our ACE guide updated throughout this process so you can better prepare for any changes that may impact you.  Once CBP starts publishing the new HTS flags for the agencies, we’ll also release a report that you can use to see the effects on your company based on past filings.

Below is a list of agencies that should be live on November 1st.  We are specifically concentrating on agencies that are listed in bold.  If you have a particular interest in one of the less common PGA’s please let us know!

AgencyIG Review StatusSubstantial process changeDirect paper replacement
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) In process
APHIS – Lacey Complete
APHIS – non-Lacey Complete
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Complete
Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) Just started
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Complete
Directorate of Defense Controls (DDTC) Complete
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) Not started -
Defense Contracts Management Agency (DCMA) Not started -
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Complete
Agricultural Marketing Service Complete -
Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Complete

* FCC specific requirements seem to be going away as part of ACE.

Food and Drug Administration

There will be substantial changes to the way FDA data is filed.  FDA will now have different screens by commodity type.  These types are:

                                                  
  • Biologics  
  • Combined Products  
  • Cosmetics
  • Medical Devices  
  • Drugs  
  • Food (spec not finished)
  • Radiation Emitting Products  
  • Tobacco  
  • Veterinary Drugs

Be prepared to key in data from any of the forms that currently get sent on paper such as the 2877 for radiological device.  You will need to transmit permit information, active ingredient breakdowns along with your existing product code and quantities.  The affirmations are still there but have a lot of code changes.

You will also have to identify multiple parties associated with the transaction. FDA will no longer use the MID at all so you will have to identify by FEI #, DUNS# or possibly just a name and address.  Even if you have the appropriate code you will still need to transmit the name and address as well.

APHIS - Non Lacey programs

This is going to be a very heavy lift as it is all filed on paper now (at least in theory).  But, thankfully there is a (large) very well written guide that includes sequence diagrams and business rules for most situations.

Just like FDA they have broken it down by agency program as below:                                        

  • Animal Care
  • Plant Protection & Quarantine
  • Veterinary Services  
  • Biotechnology

Every form and certificate used will require some key entry.  You will also have to report multiple parties to the transaction.

Other PGAs

Here’s a quick overview of the information requirements for some of the other PGAs:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
AgencyForms / Program Components

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • Vehicles & Engines
  • Pesticides              
  • Ozone depleting substances

Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)

  • Permit              
  • Release of Tobacco Products, Cigarette Papers, or Cigarette Tubes without Payment of Excise Tax              
  • Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) ID Number              
  • Foreign Certificates              
  • Effective Tax Rates              
  • Release of Distilled Spirits, Wine, or Beer in Bulk Containers without Payment of Federal Excise Tax  
  • Large Cigar Sales Price

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

DOT HS7 Form

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

  • Highly Migratory Species              
  • Antarctic Marine Living resources              
  • Tuna Tracking and verification

Agricultural Marketing Service

  • Import Request Shell Eggs
  • Request for Inspection, Reinsertion, Appeal Inspection
  • Importers exempt commodity
  • Notice of intent to request inspection

Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)

9540 Form

CB System mainstream support has ended Our legacy import/export software is being retired

The CB system is an older software product that Xtheta maintained in accordance with a third party license agreement since 2007.   On November 17, 2014, we started phasing out this older software since it did not support ACE and will no longer be able to file entries as of November 1, 2015 when Customs disables ACS.

If you are still using the CB system, please contact sales@xtheta.com to upgrade to Xcb.  Xcb is a fully ACE certified solution that is a drop in replacement for the old software.

                                                                                                                                                   
DateDescription
November 17, 2014

No further enhancements: Current and future updates to the CB system did not include any enhancements; only bugfixes for existing issues.

January 1, 2015

Only critical bug fixes:  Current and future updates to the CB system only included bugfixes for critical issues (i.e. system down, or to maintain compliance with Customs ACS specific requirements).

March 31, 2015

End of mainstream support:  Support is only being provided for user account maintenance and critical system failures.  You will need to enroll in an extended-life support agreement by May 29, 2015 if you wish to continue receiving standard support for the system.

October 31, 2015

End of life:  Customs requires all entries to be filed using ACE as of November 1, 2015

Windows 2003 no longer supported The newest version of Xcb requires 2008 or higher

As of July 2015, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 2003.  After that date, any Windows 2003 systems will not get software upgrades or essential security updates.

This poses a significant security risk for any companies that haven’t upgraded to a supported operating system by then.  Additionally, Windows 2008 and higher have substantial stability and speed enhancements that just are not available on 2003.

So, the newest version of Xcb does not support Windows 2003 and cannot install or run on any system running this outdated operating system.   If you’re running your own Xcb web server, please ensure you’ve upgraded to Windows 2008 or higher to ensure that you continue to get Xcb updates.

Xtheta is at the NCBFAA conference in rainy Orlando this week.  So, if you see us in the hallways or in one of the sessions - swing by and say hi!  We'd be glad to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

We'll release a new Insights next week with follow up from the conference.

Don’t be fooled: ACE is coming It’s April - but there’s no joke here

If you aren’t thinking about ACE yet: you’d better start now!  It may be April - but don’t be fooled: ACE is coming in less than 7 months – ready or not.  There’s still time to start making ACE plans – but the days to get ready are rapidly disappearing.

Months ago, ACE wasn’t a viable option for many clients:  but that’s no longer the case.  Over half the brokers using our software are filing entries via ACE.  In fact, many are filing 80-90% of their entries in the ACE environment.  Yes, there are still some cases where ACE isn’t an option – but you should be prepping now so you can roll out quickly when the time comes.

If you’re not one of the clients that’s filing via ACE, please contact support@xtheta.com as soon as possible to find out how you can start planning for the transition.   There are several large scale changes to your business process that you will need to plan for – so don’t wait until it’s too late!

Software update availableUpdate X15001 is being released soon

Xtheta is releasing update X15001 in the next few days.  This update is mostly targeted at ACE improvements including:

  • Cargo release
  • Post summary correction (PSC)
  • Other fixes and cleanups

We will be updating our ACE guidelines available on the www.xtheta.com to reflect the new release.

Please be aware that this update is only available to Xcb users since mainstream support for CB ended on March 31, 2015.

CB System mainstream support has endedOur legacy import/export software is being retired

The CB system is an older software product that Xtheta maintained in accordance with a third party license agreement since 2007.   On November 17, 2014, we started phasing out this older software since it did not support ACE and will no longer be able to file entries as of November 1, 2015 when Customs disables ACS.

If you are still using the CB system, please contact sales@xtheta.com to upgrade to Xcb.  Xcb is a fully ACE certified solution that is a drop in replacement for the old software.

DateDescription
November 17, 2014 No further enhancements: Current and future updates to the CB system did not include any enhancements; only bugfixes for existing issues.
January 1, 2015 Only critical bug fixes:  Current and future updates to the CB system only included bugfixes for critical issues (i.e. system down, or to maintain compliance with Customs ACS specific requirements).
March 31, 2015 End of mainstream support:  Support is only being provided for user account maintenance and critical system failures.  You will need to enroll in an extended-life support agreement by May 29, 2015 if you wish to continue receiving standard support for the system.
October 31, 2015 End of life:  Customs requires all entries to be filed using ACE as of November 1, 2015

ACE Cargo Release statusWhat you really need to know about ACE CR

Cargo release transactions may be sent stand-alone (SE transaction) or as an entry summary (AE transaction) certified for cargo release.  Release corrections may only be transmitted using the SE.

In our current implementation of Cargo Release you will see that the old two step BCS process is no longer available.  The program requires full classification as in the current BCS fully classified feature.

No PGA support

Here’s the bad news:  ACE cargo release currently supports basic release functions but still has no support for ANY OGA or PGA’s.  This is a limitation of ACE itself – not Xtheta’s software.

The good news is that the PGA’s will slowly be phased in over the next 2 months for pilot testing. They should be available for more “general use” after Custom’s ACE release in July.  A lot will depend on PGA port training.

Other limitations

There are several other limitations in the current CBP cargo release process that you should be aware of. 

  • Encrypted Consignees are not supported
  • “Informal” Consignees are not supported so you will need an IRS, Customs Assigned or Social Security number for all consignees regardless of value.
  • RLF is not yet supported and is a subject of much discussion with CBP.
  • BRASS/Line release are not supported yet.

What comes next?Where we’re headed over the next few months

We expect to spend the next 3 months concentrating on PGA’s (the single window). We are working closely with the agencies to help them develop their datasets and move into pilots.  This has involved many hours of weekly phone conferences and follow up meetings. But you may be assured that Xtheta is on the leading edge of this development. We have been selected by FDA to be their initial pilot for drug products.

It will be an interesting year!