Posted: July 3, 2020

Applications due August 7, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) seeks to deepen its understanding of the various barriers impacting the time it takes agricultural goods to cross international borders. Agricultural goods can take a significant amount of time to cross borders because of the multiple regulatory agencies involved in inspections; these time delays can lead to significant losses – particularly in highly perishable goods.

FAS seeks a standardized methodology and metrics to measure the time release of agricultural goods across international borders. The methodology will be used to: 1) identify points of significant delay in the clearance of agricultural goods, so that FAS can work with trading partners to address these barriers and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of border procedures with the intent to speed clearance of agricultural goods; and 2) to measure results from projects that support trade facilitation.

The methodology will be built upon the World Customs Organization (WCO) Time Release Study (TRS). The TRS is a strategic and internationally recognized tool to measure the actual time required for the release and/or clearance of goods, with a view to finding bottlenecks in the trade flow process. However, the existing WCO methodology is not specific to agriculture and does not have the specificity needed to capture and measure the often unique and additional clearance steps required for agricultural goods. The design of a more targeted and standardized methodology based on the WCO will ensure uniformity across FAS in how the data are gathered and will allow for aggregation and comparison of data across projects.


• Adapt the WCO methodology and enhance its specificity to capture the additional steps agricultural goods take to cross international borders. The methodology must be able to:

o Identify the appropriate place to begin and end measuring transit time;

o Delineate which steps fall under the competence of Customs authorities and those that depend on the other cross-border regulatory agencies;

o Capture behind-the-border procedures, additional documents and inspections required of agricultural goods;

o Capture different modalities such as air transport, cargo, bulk or cold storage;

o Capture the amount of time needed to complete each individual step; and

o Adapt to the varying clearance requirements in different countries.

• Prepare guidance document for using the methodology to conduct TRS and train FAS staff on its use.

• Validate the analytical methodology by conducting a test using a real-world data set. USDA will work with the awardee to set the parameters of the test, to include country and data set selection.

See full solicitation here