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January 12, 2009 

Export Control Reform Study Finds U.S. Export Control System is Broken and Should be Restructured

In the latest study of the U.S. export controls system, the National Research Council of the National Academies last week released a report entitled "Beyond Fortress America: National Security Controls on Science and Technology in a Globalized World."

The report, which was written by a committee co-chaired by Stanford University president John Hennessy and retired general Brent Scowcroft, not surprisingly found that the current U.S. export controls system is broken and should be restructured.

The report made the following three broad recommendations:

  1. The President should restructure the export control process within the federal government so that the balancing of interests can be achieved more efficiently and harm can be prevented to the nation’s security and technology base; in addition to promoting U.S. economic competitiveness. Among other things, the report recommends the creation of two new entities to make the export control process run more smoothly and to resolve disputes when they occur: (1) Coordinating Center for Export Controls to coordinate interactions with businesses or universities seeking export licenses and manage agency processes with respect to granting or denying export licenses; and (2) An Export License Appeals Panel, comprised of active or retired federal judges, would hear disputes on licensing decisions and "sunset" requirements. The report suggests placing both entities within the National Security Council structure, with the director of the Coordinating Center reporting to the national security adviser.
  2. The President should direct that executive authorities under the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Administration Act be administered to assure the scientific and technological competitiveness of the United States, which is a prerequisite for both national security and economic prosperity.
  3. The President should maintain and enhance access to the reservoir of human talent from foreign sources to strengthen the U.S. science and technology base. Recommended actions include streamlining the visa process for credentialed short-term visitors in science and technology fields and extending the duration of stay for science and engineering graduates with advanced degrees.
The committee recommends that the President should issue an Executive Order to implements these recommendations as one of the first orders of business in January 2009.

While the National Academies charges a fee to download the entire report, the individual chapters of the report can be read free of charge here and the PDF version of the Executive Summary can be found here.

Earlier this year, an analyst at a Washington, DC think tank said that there were 18 separate export control reform studies currently underway.


Hi, my name is Zenneia McLendon and I'm writing from the National Academies, and I wanted to say thanks for posting about our report, “Beyond Fortress America: National Security Controls on Science and Technology in a Globalized World”.
I also wanted to point out that the full report is available online for those who want every last detail:

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