White House Issues Fact Sheet on the Export Control Reform Initiative

On April 20, 2010, the White House issued a fact sheet on President Obama's Export Control Reform initiative. The initiative started in August 2009 with a comprehensive assessment of the U.S. export control system to identify possible reforms.

The assessment, created at the direction of the President, was conducted by an interagency task force that included all departments and agencies with roles in export controls. The assessment found that the current U.S. export control system does not sufficiently reduce national security risk based on the fact that its structure is "overly complicated, contains too many redundancies, and tries to protect too much."

Based on the review, the Administration has determined that fundamental reform of the U.S. export control system is needed in each of its four component areas, with transformation to a:

  • Single Control List,
  • Single Primary Enforcement Coordination Agency,
  • Single IT System, and
  • Single Licensing Agency.

For the implementation of the proposed reforms, the Administration has prepared a comprehensive, three-phase approach and is currently moving forward to make specific reforms which can be initiated immediately and implemented without legislation:

Phase I makes significant and immediate improvements to the existing system and establishes the framework necessary to create the new system, including making preparations for any legislative proposals. This phase includes implementing specific reform actions already in process and initiating review of new ones.

  • Control List - refine, understand, and harmonize definitions to end jurisdiction confusion between the two lists; establish new independent control criteria to be used to screen items for control into new tiered control list structure.
  • Licensing - implement regulatory-based improvements to streamline licensing processes and standardize policy and processes to increase efficiencies.
  • Enforcement - synchronize and de-conflict enforcement by creation of an Enforcement Fusion Center.
  • IT - determine enterprise-wide needs and begin the process to reduce confusion by creating a single U.S. Government (USG) point of entry for exporters.

Phase II results in a fundamentally new U.S. export control system based on the current structure later this year. This phase completes deployment of specific Phase I reforms and initiates new actions contingent upon completion of Phase I items. Congressional notification will be required to remove munitions list controls or transfer items from the munitions list to the dual-use list, and additional funding will be required both for enhanced enforcement and the IT infrastructure.

  • Control List - restructure the two lists into identical tiered structures, apply criteria, remove unilateral controls as appropriate, and submit proposals multilaterally to add or remove controls.
  • Licensing - complete transition to mirrored control list system and fully implement licensing harmonization to allow export authorizations within each control tier to achieve a significant license requirement reduction which is compatible with national security equities.
  • Enforcement - expand outreach and compliance.
  • IT - transition toward a single electronic licensing system.

Phase III completes the transition to the new U.S. export control system. Legislation would be required for this phase:

  • Control List - merge the two lists into a single list, and implement systematic process to keep current.
  • Licensing - implement single licensing agency.
  • Enforcement - consolidate certain enforcement activities into a Primary Enforcement Coordination Agency.
  • IT - implement a single, enterprise-wide IT system (both licensing and enforcement).