Are you violating the Arms Export Control Act?

In an extensive article with photographs, a leading regional newspaper reported on July 11, 2006 that the FBI, the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, and the Commerce Department’s Office of Export Enforcement were investigating possible violations of the Arms Export Control Act by a retired professor of engineering and senior researcher in ITAR-controlled military UAV technology at an important U.S. university.

Numerous items, including laboratory materials, were removed under search warrants. The researcher’s laptop computer and various other items were seized as he reentered the USA after teaching at two universities in China. The researcher was quoted as saying that he and his colleagues “knew there was such a thing as an export control act,” but “weren’t sure what the details were.”

The 21st-Century academic environment now includes students, teachers and researchers from throughout the world. Freedom of inquiry and freedom to conduct fundamental research are major elements of U.S. culture and a major commitment of the United States Government. Yet with political and security concerns arising from the events of September 11, 2001 and from proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), governments are looking closely at technology transfer within major research institutions, including both the university community and national laboratories such as those operated by the U.S. Defense and Energy Departments. In Japan, the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is engaged in a program of tech-transfer outreach to leading Japanese academic and research institutions.

In the USA, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security first published – and then withdrew – a controversial proposed rulemaking on so-called deemed exports to “foreign nationals”, i.e., to individuals who are neither U.S. citizens nor holders of Green Cards nor protected refugees. But as it withdrew the deemed-exports rulemaking, the BIS simultaneously announced the creation of a blue-ribbon deemed-exports advisory committee or DEAC. This 12-person special committee with a one-year term will be “a balanced representation of views among business executives, university administrators, and other experts in the field.”

Several members of the Trade Compliance Group staff are closely engaged in “deemed exports”, including extensive client training. They handle “dual-use” licensing and compliance work for small, medium and large enterprises throughout the world, and often work extensively in support of outside counsel for clients where problems are revealed.

Contact us to learn more about deemed exports and research community support.