Washington, D.C. – Today in a hearing of the House Science and Technology Committee, a panel of expert witnesses unanimously agreed that the current system of U.S. export control policies, under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations, are outdated and must be reformed. 

“Export controls are crucial and necessary to prevent the proliferation of militarily-useful technologies from falling into the wrong hands, and it’s critically important that we continue, to the best of our abilities, to deny the transfer of these technologies to our adversaries,” said Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX).  “However, in today’s global marketplace, it’s equally important that export control regulations recognize technologies that are no longer ours alone to control, and to permit the rapid sharing of emerging R&D technologies with our friends and allies.  It is clear to me that the current export control regime fails to meet these standards.”

Hall continued, “Industry and academia are shying away from bringing products and ideas into the international arena – or collaborating with our friends and allies. The result is less business and less engagement with leading researchers the world over.  It is, in essence, a system that is designed to slowly erode our technological superiority.”

Many of the export controls used today are from the Cold War era when Soviets sought access to U.S. technologies for potential military applications.  In response, the U.S. instituted export control mechanisms largely directed by the Export Control Act of 1968 and the Export Administration Act of 1979.

Witnesses at today’s hearing argued that since the inception of these controls, the geopolitical landscape has changed dramatically.   Advances in communications, sustained R&D investments by many western nations, and the growth of a global marketplace of high –technology goods and services, has undermined the current export controls process.  More importantly, they argued that ITAR is weakening our industrial and academic R&D base by denying our researchers the ability to collaborate with friendly foreign powers. 

Recently, studies sponsored by both government and non-government institutions have called for reexamining national security controls in light of their impacts on global scientific, technological, and economic competitiveness.  Earlier this month the National Academy of Sciences released a report, Beyond Fortress America that recommends significant changes to ITAR restrictions in order to foster openness and engagement, and to ensure a robust R&D enterprise to help sustain our nation’s economy.

Based on the findings of this report and a number of other scholarly studies, Ranking Member Hall concluded that “The current system has no transparency, and as a result, export licensing is bogging down the very same R&D enterprise that made our economy the largest in the world.”

The following witnesses testified at today’s hearing:

Lt. General Brent Scowcroft (Ret.), Co-chair, National Academies Committee on Science, Security and Prosperity, and President and Founder, The Scowcroft Group;

Mr. A. Thomas Young, Co-chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies Working Group on the Health of the U.S. Space Industrial Base and the Impact of Export Controls, and Lockheed Martin Corporation (Ret.);

Dr. Claude R. Canizares, Vice President for Research and Associate Provost, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and

Maj. General Robert Dickman (Ret.), Executive Director, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

For witness testimony and more information about today’s hearing, please visit the Science and Technology GOP website HERE.