Automating BOC to cost P5B

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THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) needs P5.21 billion over three years beginning 2017 to modernize its technology environment as decreed by the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), according to a roadmap and master plan crafted by a former official.

The budget will cover technology upgrades to automate frontline services and enhance administrative and technology management, according to the Technology Modernization Roadmap and Master Plan 2016.

Created by former Management Information System and Technology Group (MISTG) Deputy Commissioner Dennis Reyes, the roadmap is a systemic and holistic guide to modernizing the critical technology infrastructure and enterprise systems of BOC as mandated under Section 109 of Republic Act 10863 or the CMTA.

According to the roadmap, manual processes and inefficient technologies are actually affecting the BOC’s operations and revenue collections.


Previous attempts to modernize the bureau’s technology environment were constrained by policy and operating realities that hampered efficiency and continuity.

Past choices of technology projects were largely based on what could be implemented within the incumbent leadership’s term of appointment.

Thus, the projects revolved around “immediate wins” that delivered solutions that “eventually became today’s sources of problems—low hanging fruits which in hindsight compounded too already existing problems while failing to address the core problem areas that work against achieving operational efficiency.”

The roadmap identifies inefficiencies brought about by the lack of proper technologies and plans needed to improve the current systems of the bureau.

Based on the 2015 revenue performance report, the BOC racked up a deficit of P68 billion against its P436-billion revenue collection target.

“The factors that contributed to this deficit are multi-faceted. In general, this deficit could be attributed to operational inefficiencies due in large part to the high levels of manual and repetitive work involved in delivering its services, and the absence of requisite software-enabled environments to reduce its dependence on human intervention,” the roadmap states.
 
Lack of security
There is also the absence of software systems to help the Intelligence and Enforcement Groups maintain clear custody of evidence, and enable the real-time automated storage, analysis, and distribution of files or documents.

While these units currently use software to track alerts, alerts remain dependent on human intervention.

“If this were a software-enabled process, an alert system would be triggered when a condition, rule, or process is violated without the need to have personnel or officers intervene to generate the alert,” according to the roadmap.

Although the bureau has installed rudimentary CCTV equipment, many have resolutions in the 1 megapixel range, with an effective resolution range of not more than 10 feet. As in most monitoring activities, designated personnel still have to man the console to monitor security-related activities.

The revenue, collections, and legal operations suffer from a similar disadvantage, the roadmap noted.

Cashiering functions continue to support both e-banking and manual, over-the-counter (OTC) payment. The bureau uses electronic facilities for payment, but the system is by no means automated since there are no automated systems to audit and reconcile payments with banks on demand.

“Transparency between what was alleged to have been paid and what was actually paid, as well as the capability to granulize payment particulars on demand do not exist. While these reports could eventually be generated, the generation of such reports take time to manually produce.”

Legal services also stand to immediately benefit from automation of case management, electronic document routing, and the use of digital signatures, according to the roadmap.

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