Obama Administration Seeks Modernization of Export Controls

Last week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates outlined the much-awaited Obama Administration’s plans to restructure the nation’s system of export controls. Bringing the Cold War-era system of export controls into the modern age is critical to the strength of the industrial base, and a goal of the IPC government relations committee. The Milken Institute found that modernization would increase exports by nearly $60 billion, spurring research and development while simultaneously improving the protection of the most sensitive technologies. Gates’ remarks captured, as only deep experience can, the failings of the current system. For more than 60 years, U.S. Export Controls have suffered a patchwork of fixes with new requirements and cumbersome rules resulting in inefficiency, poor security and lost business for American manufacturers.

The administration plans to replace the current outmoded systems with a single-tiered control list, a single agency to administer controls, a single enforcement agency, and a uniform, multiagency IT structure to streamline licensing approvals.  The administration hopes to implement reforms in three phases. Phase I and II reforms will include immediate improvements to the existing system and establish a framework necessary to create the new system by August 2010.  Phase III, which Gates hopes to complete by the end of the year, will complete the transition to the new U.S. export control system and likely will require Congressional legislation.

Secretary Gates presented an ambitious agenda for change that will require unprecedented support and coordination from multiple government agencies and Congress.  For more information and to get involved in supporting and advocating change, please visit our website at www.ipc.org/export-controls.

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