Customs and Border Protection wants more than $50K in tech upgrades at Fernandina Port

By Wes Wolfe
May 29, 2022

Annual recurring costs are expected near $11,000, according to the CBP.
U.S. Customs House, Fernandina Beach, FL.

The Port of Fernandina’s Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) has a deal with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to put the local office in a better, up-to-date building for the agency’s needs. But that’s not happening soon.

So Port officials are looking for ways around turning over nearly an estimated $56,000 for equipment, initial service costs and close to $11,000 in annual recurring costs, for the CBP office’s information technology in its current location at the Port’s Customs House.

“First of all, I was shocked to see this — it came out of the blue,” Nassau Terminals CEO Chris Ragucci said. “This is specifically cabling and IT infrastructure upgrades. We all know there’s an arrangement for them to stay in that house until I believe, 2024, and then we have to work on finding a new, conforming space for them. But this is something that I had never heard anything about.”

Ragucci called Port Director Steve Parrott, he said, and Parrott explained that periodically agency offices have to upgrade their IT. The building isn’t in the best shape either.

“I would like, obviously, (new OHPA Executive Director David Kaufman’s) input, now that he’s on board. How do we, on an interim basis, try to accommodate their needs within reason?” Ragucci said. “You know, when you get these letters from their headquarters, these people just expect you to drop everything and march to it, and they don’t understand our particular, unique situation.”

Fullwood said CBP checks in at least monthly to see how things are going.

“We tell (Tammi Gibbons of the CBP) the same thing every time — we’re doing what we can, but right now we can’t build a new building,” Fullwood said. “She seems, with this, to be saying this is what we need now.”

The CBP sent OHPA a memorandum of agreement (MOA) outlining what the agency believes are OHPA’s responsibilities to it regarding the technology upgrade.

“Ocean Highway and Port Authority will be billed the actual costs for the equipment identified in CBP (Office of Information Technology’s) Cost Estimate … along with any outstanding reimbursements due from any previously executed agreement(s),” according to the MOA. “Recurring out-year network circuit charges, and the cost of any necessary replacement equipment not covered under warranty, will also be billed to Ocean Highway and Port Authority.”

Kaufman received an email a couple weeks ago, he said, from the agency’s Jacksonville district office to coordinate communication with him. Kaufman said he’d reach out to CBP officials to talk through some of the problems and resolve them.

“Maybe at that time, (Port Attorney) Patrick (Krechowski) can look at that contract,” Fullwood said, “because this is a little bit pushy.”

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John Rasmussen
John Rasmussen (@guest_65227)
1 year ago

OHPA as usual is top notch entertainment. May be good material for a book on how to deal with people.