Research and Sponsored Programs

Export Controls

Export Controls are federal laws that govern how technology, technical data, technical assistance, and items or materials (from software to satellites and more) are physically or electronically exported, shipped, transmitted, transferred, or shared from the U.S. to foreign countries, persons, or entities.

These laws protect national security and U.S. foreign policy interests, prevent terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and preserve U.S. economic competitiveness.  Penalties for violating these laws can be severe, both for principle investigator(s) and the university. 

Export Controls apply to both exports and deemed exports:

  • Export includes transfers to non-U.S. persons involving an actual, territorial export.
  • Deemed export is a transfer to non-U.S. persons that takes place entirely within the United States. Accordingly, a student, researcher, or faculty member who is visiting the university from another country while on a visa is a non-U.S. person.

When export controls oversight may be required

  • The items, materials, technology or technical data used in the research are identified on U.S. export control lists.
  • Working with (formally or informally), or providing technical assistance to, foreign nationals from countries currently sanctioned (e.g., for trade, travel, or terrorism) by the U.S.
  • A research agreement (e.g., contract, award, non-disclosure agreement) limits publication of results or participation in the design, conduct, or reporting of the research based on citizenship. 

Examples of transactions that generally require oversight

  • Encryption software,
  • Items, articles, software or technology listed on the EAR/Commerce Control List,
  • Items, articles, software or technology listed on the ITAR/U.S. Munitions List,
  • Work with any sanctioned countries,
  • Items to restricted parties on the Entity and Denied Persons Lists.

Fundamental Research Exclusion

As a practical matter, most research at the University is excluded from the scope of EAR and ITAR regulations due to the “fundamental research” exclusion. Fundamental research is defined as basic and applied research in science and engineering where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from research, the results of which are restricted for proprietary reasons or specific U.S. Government access and dissemination controls.

The results of fundamental research are not subject to the EAR or the ITAR, and may be disclosed to non-U.S. persons in the U.S. or abroad without specific authorization. The fundamental research exclusion applies only to the dissemination of research data and information, not to the transmission of material goods. The fundamental research exclusion is not applicable if a project sponsor imposes certain publication, access, proprietary, or confidentiality restrictions which limit the dissemination of the results to the scientific community.

Similarly, federal export control regulations do not apply when dealing with instruction in general science, math, and engineering principles commonly taught at schools, colleges and universities, and conveying information through courses listed in course catalogues and in associated teaching laboratories of academic institutions.

Primary regulations pertaining to export controls

  1. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) from the U.S. Department of State (Directorate of Defense Trade Controls) which covers items and services related to military/defense applications, including spacecraft and satellites.
  2. Export Administration Regulations (EAR) from the U.S. Department of Commerce (Bureau of Industry and Security) which covers "dual use" civilian/military items and technology.
  3. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which covers restrictions due to foreign trade embargoes and economic sanctions.