Customs’ Web site fails as comment deadline looms

November 29, 2007

How’s this for irony? The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) wants to make pilots electronically file passenger manifests over the Internet prior to crossing a U.S. border. But the federal government’s Internet-based system to collect comments on the proposal has been unavailable or inoperative for hours at a time on multiple occasions.

AOPA members have reported that their attempts to file comments on the CBP proposal have been thwarted by system failures. The comment deadline is Dec. 4 currently, but on at least three days during the comment period, the Web site was down for hours at a time. On another occasion, the site “timed out” after just a few moments, precluding any comment filing. And the comment site is scheduled to be down on Dec. 1, just three days before the close of the comment period.

Therefore, AOPA is asking CBP to make allowances for the unavailability of the system.

“AOPA hopes that CBP is diligently working to fix any and all filing problems to ensure that the public is able to comment on this rule,” wrote AOPA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Andy Cebula to CBP’s head of border security regulations. “AOPA respectfully requests that the CBP either extend the comment period until the end of the month, or at a minimum, accept late-filed comments.”