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New Zealand Customs Service: Customs Modernization Program

Accenture collaborated with the New Zealand Customs Service to design and implement a Customs Modernization program from the ground up.


The project took an innovative, holistic approach to the business of protecting borders.


Ensuring the security of a country's borders while addressing budgetary pressures from government and maintaining high standards of service is one of the key challenges facing customs agencies today.

For New Zealand Customs Service, the difficulties became even more apparent in the early 1990s. It was evident that while existing resources were approaching maximum capacity, the agency's workload was increasing, with expectations that it would double in the coming decade.

The challenge for New Zealand Customs Service was to find a way to meet this growth, while continuing to improve:

  • Quality

  • Effectiveness

  • Efficiency

They needed a solution that would enable them to increase their capacity, without the necessity for extra funding or additional staff.

While minimizing the cost of their activities to New Zealand taxpayers, they aim to maintain quality border protection, safeguard revenue collection and provide increased assistance to the business community.


After defining their vision and creating a strategic plan, New Zealand Customs Service sought a partner with significant experience in large-scale change programs to help them put it into practice. Accenture worked with New Zealand Customs Service to design and implement a Customs Modernization program, known as "CusMod."

A two-year project, CusMod involved more than just developing new information systems. The project took a holistic approach to the business of protecting borders.

Together, Accenture and New Zealand Customs Service reviewed the whole of the customs operation from the 'ground up,' considering:

  • Strategy

  • People

  • Processes

  • Technology

Through CusMod, New Zealand Customs Service is preparing today for the challenges of tomorrow.

According to Graeme Ludlow, former comptroller of customs, the new approach enables the agency to achieve its vision of becoming a world leader in customs administration. Part of this vision includes the commitment to working cooperatively with industry and agencies by speeding trade, assisting business with better ways to meet their objectives and reducing red tape.

"We took a bold approach to modernizing our processes and developing a sharply focused service philosophy. The changes we implemented are now regarded as a model for customs administrators who are contemplating modernization programs," Ludlow said.


Barry Armstrong, former director-Information Technology, New Zealand Customs Service, saw the main outcomes of CusMod as operational improvements, such as much faster goods handling, flexibility and responsiveness.

"The former directly benefits the day-to-day business operations of our clients, while the latter will let us meet challenging political and business demands," said Armstrong.

As a result of CusMod, improved work processes and information systems are empowering staff, and enabling them to manage their work more effectively. A greater client service orientation has been created, significantly reducing the impact of customs activities on legitimate trade and travel, and making more effective use of resources.

In addition to these benefits, New Zealand Customs will reap more than $NZ60 million in financial benefits over the next seven years for an initial investment of $NZ22 million.

This includes savings on information technology expenditure and other costs that would have been incurred without the implementation of the project. A further $NZ20 million in additional revenue is expected to be collected through improved targeting.