In spring 2010, the Obama administration announced a comprehensive plan to restructure and simplify the U.S. export control system to both strengthen national security and to facilitate legitimate exports. Given the complexity of the export control laws and the number of agencies involved, the administration set forth ambitious goals to restructure the system, including the following:
- A single control list that would control fewer but higher-risk items
- A single licensing agency
- A single enforcement agency
- A single IT infrastructure to process export licenses in a unified manner
In the last two years, the administration has made admirable, but incremental progress toward these objectives, especially in the area of reforming the export control lists and encouraging greater interagency coordination on enforcement. However, it is uncertain whether the Obama administration (or the next administration) will be able to complete this effort. Full implementation of the administration’s reform objectives requires legislative change, which will be difficult to achieve in the current political environment.
Export control enforcement
Progress also has been made with regard to export control enforcement. Legislation in 2010 harmonized the different maximum export control criminal penalties found in four different statutes. The Export Enforcement Coordination Center opened in March and will be responsible for enhanced information sharing and coordination on export control matters among federal law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community.