Expert opinions, TECHNOLOGY

Digitalization of customs: how new technologies have changed the requirements to customs officers

Digitalization of the economy is a global process that affects the whole society, transforming economic and social sides of life. Recent events accelerate Implementation of digital technologies in the field of public administration of Russia. New services, work algorithms and criteria for evaluating labor are emerging.

The challenges of our time do not bypass the sphere of customs. In 2023 professionals in this industry, in addition to knowledge of laws and procedures, must possess a specialized logistic software ensuring that they are capable of managing smart checkpoints, etc. Tatyana Saurenko, Dr. Econ. Sc., associate professor, director of the institute of foreign economic security and customs affairs at RUPF (RUDN), tells about the state and prospects for the development of information technologies in the customs control system.

Vitaly Belousov / RIA Novosti

Process automation

The development of new technologies and intensive digitalization allow to automate many administrative processes in the work of the Federal Customs Service (FCS), which is of particular importance in the conditions of restructuring supply chains and increasing sanctions pressure. Application of IT technology increases the effectiveness of customs control, and also allows to optimize the workload, structure of customs authorities and more rational use of funds for their maintenance.

In recent years, the Comprehensive Program for the Development of the FCS until 2020 has been implemented, as a result 16 geographically  distributed electronic declaration centers (CEDs) have been created, replacing more than 600 places of customs clearance. About 30% of declarations for goods are released automatically, without the participation of employees. That reduces significantly registration time (up to about 4 minutes).

The Unified Automated Information System (UAIS) has been created and is constantly developing. Its task is to ensure transparency and high speed of information exchange for participants in foreign economic activity.

Its use allows to implement t functions and powers in the field of customs affairs assigned to the FCS of Russia, to provide public services, as well as to perform the functions and tasks that ensure the activities of the FCS in accordance with the legal norms of the EAEU and legislation of the Russian Federation.

On the platform of the integrated information system of the EAEU information interaction of customs services is carried out through the implementation of general processes in the EAEU. The Federal Customs Service of Russia works online 24×24, since the EAEU customs code regulates customs registration time (within 4 hours).

Based on data for 2017-2021, it can be concluded that process automation has improved service performance – customs contributions to the country’s budget increased by more than 60%.

Development strategy

Successfully implemented Comprehensive Program for the Development of the Federal Customs Service of Russia until 2020 became the basis for the Strategy for the Development of the Customs Service until 2030. In fact, it also sets the goal of comprehensive application of information technology in customs operations.  The concept of “intellectual customs” should be implemented sequentially and step by step. Introduction of AI, Big Data analysis, further automation of customs processes are aimed at improvement of public service improving the quality of communication of participants of foreign economic activity.

An important factor in the development of the FCS is active participation in projects within the framework of the EAEU digital agenda. One of them is digital traceability of the movement of goods in the EAEU, another one is electronic trade, designed to ensure the formation of the EAEU regulatory framework in the field of regulation of electronic commerce and barrier-free movement of goods within the framework of electronic trade in the EAEU.

By 2030, checkpoints at the border should become a single information system, collecting and analyzing data of customs control facilities: inspection and weight-dimensional complexes, systems of radiation monitoring, etc. Such an intelligent checkpoint should be equipped with electronic queue systems, operational monitoring and control systems that will ensure uninterrupted movement of goods.

Risks of digitalization

As the pace of high-tech adoption increases, so do the risks. The main risks are associated with failures in the operation of information systems. To provide their continuity of work the main processing center for data coming from customs authorities was created in Tver. A technical solution has been applied here, which will allow technical support and maintenance of any of the subsystems without stopping the complex as a whole.

It is important to note that, being objects of critical information infrastructure, currently FCS services are subjected to daily cyber attacks (on average 3-4 times a day). On the one hand, these are the so-called DDoS attacks related to increased server load due to uncontrolled requests, and on the other hand, the direction of malicious attachments with documents uploaded to the system or by e-mail.

Additional technical and organizational measures are being taken, enabling you to counter threats. So, at present, the task of transfer of the IT structure of the FCS to domestic software is being solved, in accordance with the decree of the President on the prohibition of the use of foreign software at critical information infrastructure facilities. The FCS pays great importance to development of information security technologies.

Requirements for customs officers

At the same time with the digital transformation of customs, another task is personnel support of customs units with highly qualified specialists. Implementation of IT technologies requires employees to obtain additional knowledge in the field of Big Data and AI. A professional should be able to use information systems and resources, state-of-the-art technical control and observation tools. Changing role and position of the modern customs officer update such personal qualities as the ability to adapt promptly, additional training, retraining in conditions of changing processes of customs administration.

The high requirements for moral and psychological qualities of a specialist remain: awareness of the importance of protecting public interests, integrity and stress resistance.

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