Inside Logistics

Auditor General reviews import processes

Despite some gaps, border controls mostly work as intended


April 3, 2012
by MM&D staff

OTTAWA, Ontario: The Auditor General of Canada has concluded that, for the most part, the rules, regulations and procedures put in place to control the importation of goods into the country are working.

The 2012 Spring Report of the Auditor General of Canada looked at how the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Health Canada, Natural Resources Canada (NR Can) and Transport Canada handle their responsibilities of overseeing imports of goods that pose a risk to the health and safety of Canadians.

“Based on our review of transaction information from the CBSA’s databases, the controls to administer import requirements and to automatically target high-risk shipments are working as intended. That is, in almost all cases, roles, responsibilities, policies, and procedures were followed.”

There were a few areas the report found lacking.

It concluded that border lookouts and examinations need attention. Specifically better documentation needs to occur in order to provide the Auditor General information of what actually happens.

“It is not possible to determine whether border services officers carried out examinations in accordance with their instructions. Yet, border lookouts and examinations consume additional time and resources, and are reserved for shipments that are considered high risk.”

The border lookout system works to link the CBSA with agencies like CFIA and provide notification when specific products arrive in Canada. It provides agency officials with the information and direction they require to reduce or manage imports that have been identified as a risk.

The report further states: “There are gaps in the monitoring practices for all three border controls—administration of import requirements, targeting of high-risk shipments, and examinations. This makes it difficult for federal organizations to know how well these controls are working and where resources and effort can be directed most effectively to manage risk.”

It also addressed the Single Window Initiative to control the border. The Single Window Initiative is a CBSA program designed to better identify goods, validate permits and authorizations, and to provide a single point for importers to submit information electronically.

The report concludes the program “has met few of its original project timelines and goals. As well, the CBSA has not followed the project’s oversight process.”