ITAR Reform Legislation in the Works

Space pioneers battle for greater freedom, New Scientist

"At issue are the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which are supposed to prevent technological secrets ending up in the hands of 21 proscribed nations, including China, Iran and North Korea. If a technology appears on a document called the US Munitions List, companies need a licence to export it or to reveal details to a foreign national. Even if granted, the licence often forces the firm to mount a security guard on the system while it is in another country."

Editor's note: I received a note from Mike Gold who wanted to clarify one item in the above story by the New Scientist.

"Specifically, the story says that we paid $220,000 for two guards to watch our coffee table / Genesis Tech Stand. In actual fact, we paid $220,000 to the government for their own monitoring activities, and we also of course had to pay money on top of that for our own security personnel who had to watch all of our ITAR-related hardware and data (not just the coffee table)."

As well, as Chair of the Export Control Working Group which presented to the full FAA Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC), Mike Gold provided NASA Watch with the recommendations the group made to COMSTAC. Mike also indicates that there appears to be legislation in the works that would give the Executive branch the authority to move various technologies, including potentially commsats, off of the US Munitions List. ITAR reform is much needed. Here's the groups recommendations;

1) Under the auspices of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), or a revived National Space Council, the White House must lead an effort to review and revise the United States Munitions List (USML) and the Commerce Control List (CCL). Technologies that are obsolete, militarily benign, or widely available in the international commercial marketplace should be placed on the CCL. Moreover, inconsistencies, overlap, and contradictions between the USML and the CCL should be identified and addressed.

2) The White House should establish a standing entity (again, under OSTP or a new Space Council) to support this review process on an ongoing basis. Due to the constantly evolving nature of technology and the global marketplace, the USML and CCL should be reviewed, updated, and reconciled, on at least an annual basis with input from all of the relevant stakeholders and the private sector. Congress, for its part, must draft and pass the legislation necessary to allow this process to take place.

3) The transparency of the export control process must also be enhanced. Specifically, explanatory notes should be included at the end of each USML and CCL category. Additionally, the results of Commodity Jurisdiction requests, including the text of the requests themselves (redacted as necessary), should be publicly released in a timely fashion and in an easily accessible manner.

4) The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) should bolster the efficacy of its Response Team. The Response Teams capabilities should be enhanced to allow it to act as an ombudsman, providing interested parties with greater information, as well as recommendations for potential strategies and paths forward. To meet the requisite Response Team staffing needs, the DDTC should consider hiring personnel with practical experience such as present and former Defense Technology Security Administration Space Directorate monitors.

5) The DDTC should be commended for the significant improvements that have been made in response times. To leverage this progress, the DDTC should review and, in coordination with industry and relevant stakeholders, make recommendations to establish realistic ceilings for issuing responses to license applications, Commodity Jurisdiction Requests, and other relevant export control inquiries.

6) The DDTC in conjunction with industry and relevant stakeholders should review and consider expanding the availability of exemptions, such as those granted with respect to Canada, to NATO and Major Non-NATO U.S. allies.

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This page contains a single entry by Marc Boucher published on May 26, 2009 1:10 PM.

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