What is Export Control?
The U.S. government regulates the transfer of information, commodities, technology, and software considered to be strategically important to the U.S. in the interest of national security, economic and/or foreign policy concerns. There is a complicated network of federal agencies and inter-related regulations that govern exports collectively referred to as “Export Controls.” In brief, Export Controls regulate the shipment or transfer, by whatever means, of controlled items, software, technology, or services out of U.S. (termed an “Export”). Perhaps of even more consequence to the university, is that the government also restricts the release of certain information to foreign nationals here in the U.S. (referred to as a “Deemed Export”). Export Controls have the potential to severely limit the research opportunities of university faculty and their students and staff, as well as to prevent international collaboration in certain research areas. Non-compliance with export controls can result in severe monetary and criminal penalties against both an individual as well as the university, and can result in the loss of research contracts, governmental funding, and the ability to export items.
What do MMU personnel need to do?
In order to ensure compliance with export controls, it is critically important for University personnel to identify when their activities may trigger export controls. When export controls apply, individuals must take the appropriate steps to obtain any required governmental licenses, monitor and control access to restricted information, and safeguard all controlled materials.
What kinds of activities might trigger export control issues?
Research in export restricted science and engineering areas – examples include:
- Military or Defense Articles and Services
- High Performance Computing
- Dual Use Technologies (technologies with both a military and commercial application)
- Encryption Technology
- Missiles & Missile Technology
- Chemical/Biological Weapons
- Nuclear Technology
- Select Agents & Toxins (Select Agent/Toxin list)
- Space Technology & Satellites
- Medical Lasers
Traveling overseas with high tech equipment, confidential, unpublished, or proprietary information or data – Traveling with certain types of high tech equipment including but not limited to advanced GPS units, scientific equipment, or with controlled, proprietary or unpublished data in any format may require an export license depending on your travel destination.
Traveling with laptop computers, web-enabled cell phones and other personal equipment – Laptop computers, web-enabled cell phones, and other electronics containing encryption hardware or software and/or proprietary software can require an export license to certain destinations. In general, an export license will be required to take any items to or through any U.S. sanctioned country (e.g., Iran, Syria, Cuba, Sudan, and North Korea).
Use of 3rd Party Export Controlled Technology or Information – University activities involving the use of export controlled information, items, or technology received from outside the university are not protected under the Fundamental Research Exclusion (see below for explanation) and all research involving the use of export restricted technology is subject to all export controls.
Sponsored research containing contractual restrictions on publication or dissemination – The vast majority of research done at the university is shielded from export controls under the Fundamental Research Exclusion (see below for explanation). However, this protection is lost whenever the university or the researcher agrees to allow any restrictions on the publication, dissemination, or access to the research by foreign nationals.
Shipping or Taking Items Overseas – University activities that involve the transfer of project information, equipment, materials, or technology out of the U.S. by whatever means will be subject to export controls and may require export license(s) depending on the item, destination, recipient, and end-use.
Providing Financial Support/International Financial Transactions – University activities that involve the international payment of funds to non-U.S. persons abroad need to be verified to ensure that the university is not inadvertently providing financial assistance to a blocked or sanctioned entity. Examples include providing support via a subcontract to a non-U.S. university or providing payments to research subjects in other countries.
International Collaborations & Presentations – University activities that involve foreign national faculty, students, staff, visiting foreign scientists or collaborator(s), or other foreign entities (e.g., non-U.S. company, university or other organization) or research that will include travel to international conferences to present unpublished results may be subject to export controls especially if any of the foreign nationals are from embargoed or sanctioned countries.
International Field Work – Research projects where any part of the research will take place outside the U.S. (e.g., field work outside the U.S.) may not qualify under the Fundamental Research Exclusion (see below for explanation) and may be subject to export controls.
International Consulting – Providing professional consulting services overseas, especially to embargoed or sanctioned countries (e.g., Iran, Syria, Cuba, Sudan and North Korea) is, in most cases, strictly prohibited.
What is the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE)?
Fundamental Research is defined by the National Security Decision Directive 189 (NSDD189) as “any basic or applied research in science and engineering, the results of which are ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community…” In order to qualify as Fundamental Research, the research must be conducted free of any publication restrictions and without any access or dissemination restrictions. Research that qualifies as Fundamental Research is NOT subject to export controls as provided for under the federal regulations (15 CFR§734.8). It is critical to note that the Fundamental Research Exclusion will be lost if a researcher agrees to any “side-deals” allowing sponsors the ability to review and approve publications or to control access to the project or project results. Loss of the Fundamental Research Exclusion can quickly put your research in jeopardy of non-compliance with export controls.
Where can you get help?
For more information or questions on export controls, please contact the Mount Mary University Development Office at 414-930-3034.