Order, then-President Ronald Reagan required that government agencies determine in advance whether the products of federally funded fundamental research would be classified. If classification was not justified, then these research products would remain unrestricted and could be published by the researcher or sponsoring institution. This policy statement provides protection for the publication of much of the research done in academic institutions. This balancing of national security concerns and the benefits of open publication of scientific work has served the nation well.
The committee finds that a final, competent, neutral decision-making body, external to the competing agencies, can also be a useful means of resolving these vexing conflicts inherent in the current system of export controls. This kind of decision-making body can be adapted for the export control system so that both sides, the would-be exporters and the export controllers (or other interested government agencies), can marshal their evidence and a reasoned decision can be made. If favorable to the exporter, a prompt decision would mean that business exporters are not deprived of a market while foreign competitors move in and researcher “exporters” are not deprived of the opportunities to benefit from international collaborations.
The existing system of export controls is not our only alternative. Nor do we have to abandon export controls altogether in the face of global competitive forces. Numerous studies have made more targeted proposals. This report sets out the high-level changes that need to take place by direction of the President before smaller changes recommended elsewhere can be implemented successfully. The committee finds, however, that a better system is imperative and can be accomplished through a single Executive Order setting the system on a path much more protective of both national security and economic prosperity.