Simply Trade

Leadership Lessons from a former CBP Commissioner

Former CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin sat down with the Simply Trade podcast to share his experiences transforming border governance in the post-9/11 era. As the threat landscape changed, Bersin pioneered initiatives with the private sector that strengthened security while facilitating international trade and imports/exports.

One of his most impactful projects was developing the Advanced Cargo Information (ACI) system. By leveraging supply chain data and risk assessments, ACI separated low-risk shipments from those needing scrutiny. This allowed CBP to focus resources while speeding the flow of legitimate commerce. Bersin recognized that information sharing between government and industry was key.

He also spearheaded efforts to simplify the import entry process through public-private working groups. By enabling earlier electronic transmission of shipment data, admissibility decisions could happen pre-arrival. This further streamlined the border for compliant importers and exporters.

Bersin’s leadership centered around change management. He gained buy-in for a new paradigm where security and trade facilitation complement each other through collaboration and technology. With the right team and vision, even entrenched processes could transform quickly when people understood the benefits.

For those in international trade, Bersin’s story offers valuable takeaways. Modernization requires challenging preconceptions to develop innovative, win-win solutions. And through cooperation, border management can progress in a way that enhances both enforcement and the movement of lawful goods.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this segment.

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