This is not to say that the existing export control system cannot be adapted to support the DHS mission. On the contrary, the current administration’s initiative to reform the government-wide export control system affirms its recognition that the system can be modernized largely by administrative means. Because of the brief period of the existence of the DHS, its need for export control reform is largely anticipatory (even though there have been some incidents in recent years that illustrate the risk to U.S. interests). Nevertheless, there is an urgent need to protect the global networks that are vital to the U.S. economy and defense posture, as these networks will serve as an important attack vector in future conflict, whether state-sponsored or the result of an effort by nonstate entities. As a result, the creation of an export control regime able to flexibly address the unique characteristics of the DHS mission is crucial.

The Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security asked the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a study that would address the source of their export control problems and to make recommendations to resolve them. To that end, the Committee on Homeland Security and Export Controls was established in 2009 to conduct a study based on the following statement of task:

An ad hoc committee will conduct a study and prepare a report on the impact of export controls on the DHS mission to strengthen the U.S. security envelope abroad. The committee will examine the current impact of export controls on the research, development and eventual foreign deployment of S&T Directorate programs, and will also assess the effectiveness of factoring export controls into programmatic decision-making within DHS. The committee will review the Department’s role in the export control interagency process. The committee will make recommendations in two areas: (1) how to factor export control policies into programmatic decision-making in DHS with a focus on the S&T Directorate; and (2) whether and if so, how to modify DHS’ role in the export control interagency process.

In its investigations, the NRC’s Committee on Homeland Security and Export Controls found instances in which existing export control regulations were affecting the S&T Directorate’s mission: Counterterror research projects have been delayed, international conferences have been canceled, and DHS officials have been unable to attend conferences in the United States when foreign nationals were present.1 In each of these instances, the S&T Directorate was prevented or delayed from developing, sharing, or in some cases, learning about advanced antiterror technology that is being developed outside the United States. Currently, this problem primarily affects the department’s research and development efforts in the S&T Directorate, but other components of the department could be affected in the future.

The committee identified three interrelated needs regarding the S&T Directorate’s involvement with export controls. The first involves the need by the Departments of Defense and State to recognize the international nature of DHS’s vital statutory mission. The committee has chosen to lead with this finding to emphasize this critical aspect of DHS’s activities. The second involves the need to further develop internal processes at DHS to meet export control requirements and implement export control policies. The department is still very young relative to its counterpart agencies; it is in the process of consolidating many preexisting and new offices


1 All of these examples are discussed in Chapter 1.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement