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Single Window Offerings
It is generally recognized that customs agencies, have a pivotal role in the development of Single Window solutions. In order to implement this solution for customs, government agencies must be convinced about this solution and that their powers will not be diminished. Although customs agencies are the focus of any Single Window solution, it this does not necessarily mean that it will be owned or run by Customs. Nevertheless, they will still be the most important stakeholder. Customs is the largest and most important cross-border regulatory agency in terms of trade transactions, information gathering and business activity. Strong leadership is necessary to make this solution a success.
Single Window Solution for customs deals with all stakeholders: public and private sector agencies, traders, transport entities, vendors, regulatory agencies, etc. So, generally a legal framework should be in place comprising interagency agreements between the agencies involved. Such agreements must recognize the fact that responsibility for risk management for a given function resides with the agency set up to manage that function and not within the Single Window itself. It involves a number of complex issues of resource sharing, costs, integrated risk assessment and data sharing. There are also other important issues including data security, confidentiality and identity management across a number of databases.
Single Window Solution for Customs also implies significant changes to the way in which agencies such as customs, interact with each other and with trade and transport parties. So, a Business Process Reengineering (BPR) could be required. BPR is a term which describes the means by which that change can be analyzed, documented and put in place. It is an activity that requires all parties’ participation and guidance, and it aims to ensure that the business operating environment is in the best possible condition to maximize the benefits of the legal, technical and policy implications of a Single Window Solution. The result of a BPR is a blueprint of how business processes will change for the Government and the industry. These changes will include the need for standard procedures and data harmonization.
A suitable and effective approach for the Business to Government (B2G) and the Government to Government (G2G) exchange of information would be applying OCR’s Single Window Solution which will allow all parties involved to speak the same language, standardizing procedures, forms and other documents, and also harmonizing the data.
The steps required for the establishment of a Single Window Solution for customs might include: (a) Process analysis and harmonization; (b) National data standardization; (c) Cross border data standardization and exchange; (d) Document/messaging simplification and standardization; and (e) Customization of data.
Activities required for implementation of this solution are classified as follows:
- Legal framework in place
- Feasibility study to assess the capacity, the project scope and the timeframe
- Political will. Interagency coordination and dissemination
- Financial instrument
- Organizational structure
- Training and transferring of the know-how
- Basic infrastructure (HW, SW, Telecom)
- System implementation and adaptation
- Maintenance service
- Updating services
- Support services
The technical requirements in terms of architecture, platform, interface, data exchange, security, communications and other technical issues should be discussed with the parties involved and based on the existing infrastructure, capacity and specific client needs.