The Department of Homeland Security has been in existence for only a relatively short period of time, and its encounters with the export control system thus far have been sporadic and not confined to any particular subject matter. However, the nature and cost of the export control problems confronted by the agency thus far are a reasonably clear harbinger of future issues, and they are not inconsequential matters as far as national security is concerned.
The causes of the current and potential future problems for DHS in working within the current export control system are relatively straightforward. First, the current U.S. export control system has not caught up with the realities of globalization. In a globalized world, sharing technologies and information is an essential national security policy tool. Current export control reforms are aimed at this problem, and the additional measures recommended by this committee for specific homeland security purposes are consistent with the broader effort.
Second, DHS is still a relatively new department that continues to work at integrating its 22 domestic components from disparate corners of the federal government into a unified whole. The DHS integration process affects both its internal development of consistent export control practices and its relations with its peer departments in the implementation of export control requirements. The committee’s recommendations focus on furthering this integration within the export control context.
Third, the practices that implement export control policies have not caught up with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the need to recognize the role of the secretary of homeland security in export control policy making and implementation. The additional reforms recommended by this committee would clarify the secretary’s role and provide for the necessary staff support.
The committee has examined past problems, the department’s current efforts, and situations that likely may arise in the future. The committee focused, in particular, on the differences between the DHS mission and the missions of the departments with traditional export control roles, and the committee’s proposed adjustments to the nation’s export control system are designed to accommodate DHS to account for these differences. For DHS, a strategy of broad international engagement and cooperation in the development of the antiterror methods and equipment is the best path to protecting the U.S. homeland. This international engagement and cooperation does not always reach subject matter covered by existing export controls; but when it does, the secretary of homeland security needs workable tools to ensure that delays are avoided, disputes among agencies are resolved intelligently, and important DHS programs are implemented successfully.
The committee’s recommendations are tailored to the need for careful balancing of homeland security risks with other important national security risks as export control decisions are made. All of the committee’s recommendations can be implemented within the existing authorities of the executive branch, and the committee urges that these recommendations be fulfilled promptly.