Government agencies have significantly increased their enforcement of export control compliance to include universities and research institutions. SIU System as an institution as well as individual PIs and administrators can be held liable for export control violations, with severe monetary penalties and sanctions including loss of export privileges resulting from non-compliance.

This Overview is intended to provide SIU System personnel with a concise summary of how Export Control regulations affect research activities, international collaborations, and export-related transactions at the University. All research and administrative staff are encouraged to read this Overview and use it as an ongoing resource for complying with export controls. 

What are Export Controls?

The term "export controls" refers to a set of federal laws and regulations. These laws and regulations are used to:

  • restrict both physical and nonphysical exports of items that could contribute to the military potential of international adversaries,
  • to advance U.S. foreign policy goals, and
  • to protect the U.S. economy and promote trade goals.

What Do Export Controls Usually Cover?

When export controls apply, they are frequently, but not exclusively, associated with items, information, and software code within the following general areas:

  • Chemical, Biotechnology, and Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Technology
  • Remote Sensing, Imaging, and Reconnaissance
  • Navigation, Avionics, and Flight Control
  • Robotics
  • Propulsion System and Unmanned Air Vehicle Subsystems
  • Telecommunications/Networking
  • Nuclear Technology
  • Sensors and Sensor Technology
  • Advanced Computer/Microelectronic Technology
  • Information Security/Encryption
  • Laser and Directed Energy Systems
  • Rocket Systems
  • Marine Technology

Additionally, the National Science and Technology Council has compiled a list of Critical and Emerging Technologies that are of particular importance to U.S. national security.  If you are involved in any of these technologies or any of the areas listed above, you should contact the Export Controls Office for an export control assessment.

Many SIU System personnel only encounter export control when traveling internationally.  When traveling internationally for SIU System business (e.g., presenting at a conference), complete and submit the Temporary Export License Exception Form prior to your departure.

What are the Relevant Federal Agency Regulations?

The Federal agencies and their export control regulations most commonly associated with research activity at academic institutions in the US are the following:

  1. US Department of State (Directorate of Defense Trade Controls)
    The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) governs "defense articles and services" (items and information specifically designed or adapted for military use (includes satellites and spacecraft). The State Department also provides guidance on defense services and fundamental space science research. 

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR): These are the State Department’s defense-based controls under Title 22 CFR 120-129 governing defense articles and activities. Defense articles are defined generally as hardware, materials, equipment, software, technology and technical data specifically designed or modified for defense or military application, without a civil performance or use equivalent. The ITAR governs many types of commercially available items built to military specifications commonly used in research activities, including but not limited to the Engineering, Biological, Information, and Space sciences. Unlike the EAR’s dual-use universe, exports of ITAR items are subject to licensing regardless of destination or end user/use, unless a specific license exception is met. In other words, all destinations potentially require licenses. And further, unlike the EAR, certain countries, such as China, are per se prohibited destinations under ITAR: no licenses will be issued.  

In addition, the ITAR also regulates a category of activities defined as “defense services.” Essentially these are activities which either involve disclosing ITAR technical data to foreign nationals (or data related to a defense article) even in the pursuit of fundamental research; or disclosing any technical data (including that which is not-controlled, dual use controlled or already in the public domain) to a foreign national or related organization affiliated with a military purpose. Activity that meets one or more of these definitions likewise triggers a licensing requirement.

  1. US Department of Commerce (Bureau of Industry and Security)
    The Export Administration Regulations (EAR) govern dual use items and information predominately civilian in character by having military applications.

Export Administration Regulations (EAR): These are the Commerce Department’s “dual-use” controls under Title 15 CFR 700-799 governing hardware, materials, equipment, software, technology and technical data that Commerce defines as “dual use” i.e., having civilian and inherent military or defense application. Commerce places destination (country) and end-use/user-based controls by requiring prior authorization (license) prior to export.  Not all items on the Commerce Control List (CCL) are controlled for all countries. For example, the type of control such as “National Security,” “Nuclear Proliferation,” or “Biological/Chemical” (among other types controls), determines what types of items are controlled for particular countries and end uses based on the items specifications, capability and use.  

  1. US Department of the Treasury (Office of Foreign Assets Control)
    The Office of Foreign Assets Control Regulations (OFAC) administers and enforces trade embargoes and economic sanctions. For reference, see their Lists of Sanctioned Countries and Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) under the "Resources" tab on the OFAC website.   Violations of these export control regulations can lead to significant civil and criminal penalties.

Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC): These are the Treasury Department’s economic embargo controls under Title 31 CFR 500-598 governing which types of transactions are restricted with certain countries which OFAC defines as terrorist-sponsoring nations. Exports constitute only one of many types of restricted transactions which OFAC defines as providing a restricted service. While OFAC maintains economic embargoes with numerous countries, the only countries that directly impact exports (outbound and laboratory access) for our purposes are Cuba, Iran, Syria, N. Korea and Sudan. Similar to the EAR and ITAR, transactions with these countries require licenses, which may or may not be authorized depending on the country and nature of transaction.

How Do These Regulations Specifically Impact SIU System’s Research Activities?

Research at SIU System is primarily but not exclusively non-restricted. Non-restricted research is covered under the Fundamental Research Exclusion (“FRE”). The FRE allows foreign national researchers at the University to access EAR-controlled items and data for purposes of basic and applied research, the results of which are intended for publication and broad dissemination within the scientific community. However, some fundamental research is informed by “background information” which is export controlled and must be protected. Non-research activities at the University, as well as the limited segment of restricted research, are not protected by the FRE. Thus, the following activities must always be evaluated for export control purposes:

  1. Research activities subject to publication restrictions.
  2. Outbound shipments to foreign destinations require analysis under the five regulatory regimes to determine whether an authorization is required.
  3. Laboratory access to controlled equipment and technical data that does not fall under the FRE must be restricted to authorized personnel.
  4. International collaborations may not involve prohibited parties and must be screened accordingly against the restricted parties lists.
  5. Teaching/lecturing abroad and participating in international conferences may, in certain cases, require authorization.
  6. Foreign travel may trigger a variety of compliance requirements.
  7. Hosting foreign national visitors (non-US persons) requires screening against restricted parties lists and may require access control planning.
  8. Research activities not covered by the FRE need to be evaluated for export compliance purposes.
  9. For fabrication contracts and spin-off entities (i.e. where an SIU System PI or administrator has created a separately chartered company to perform services unrelated to his/her staff position at SIU System), it is necessary to ensure that any export controlled activity conducted by the spin-off does not occur using SIU System physical or human resources. Such entities must seek separate counsel pertaining to export control compliance obligations. 
  10. For private consulting or advisory services, where a PI’s private consulting arrangement triggers export controls, compliance with these controls remains the legal responsibility of the PI in his/her private capacity and is not SIU System’s responsibility.

Export Control Resources