Export Controls:

Commerce's Assessment of the Foreign Availability of Controlled Items Can Be More Effective

NSIAD-88-71: Published: Feb 9, 1988. Publicly Released: Feb 9, 1988.

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GAO evaluated the Department of Commerce's procedures for conducting foreign availability assessments to determine whether militarily significant commercial products are freely available to the Soviet bloc from other countries.

GAO found that Commerce: (1) averaged 16 months to complete foreign availability cases, although the Export Administration Act of 1979 had envisioned a 90-day processing period; (2) had incomplete cases that were in process for up to 47 months; (3) had difficulty in obtaining necessary evidence; (4) was reluctant to publish a determination without Department of Defense (DOD) concurrence; (5) needs to improve its information-sharing procedures with DOD and other agencies; and (6) should update its regulations specifying what information it uses in determining foreign availability. GAO also found that Commerce: (1) disagreed with DOD on information-sharing procedures; and (2) has started notifying other agencies of initiated assessments and requesting relevant information.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Commerce has been unable to secure DOD full cooperation and considers the matter closed because cooperation is considered unlikely. DOD believes that working level relationships have been improved. Since further cooperation is unlikely, GAO believes that the recommendation should be closed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Under Secretary for Export Administration and the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary for Trade Security Policy to establish procedures for complete information-sharing consistent with the Export Administration Amendments Act of 1985.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Commerce has been unable to secure DOD full cooperation and considers the matter closed because cooperation is considered unlikely. DOD believes that working level relationships have been improved. Since further cooperation is unlikely, GAO believes that this recommendation should be closed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Under Secretary for Export Administration and the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary for Trade Security Policy to establish procedures for complete information-sharing consistent with the Export Administration Amendments Act of 1985.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Commerce published guidance concerning specific kinds of evidence it uses in assessing foreign availability in the September 16, 1988 Federal Register.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the Under Secretary for Export Administration to amend Commerce's foreign availability regulations to fully and explicitly reflect the guidance provided in the Export Administration Amendments Act of 1985 on the factors Commerce may use in determining foreign availability, as well as to specify other evidence Commerce has found helpful in making such determinations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

 

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