Foreign Military Sales:

Review Process for Controlled Missile Technology Needs Improvement

NSIAD-99-231: Published: Sep 29, 1999. Publicly Released: Sep 29, 1999.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Katherine V. Schinasi
(202) 512-4841
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed how the Foreign Military Sales program safeguards technology and arms transfers, focusing on the: (1) process for deciding what technology may be transferred as part of a sale through the program; (2) controls for ensuring that technology transfer considerations have been weighed when reviewing requests and agreements; and (3) Department of Defense's (DOD) proposals to improve technology transfer procedures.

GAO noted that: (1) the U.S. government relies on a complex process with many participants to determine what technology may be transferred as part of a sale through the Foreign Military Sales program; (2) technology transfer decisions begin with an interagency National Disclosure Policy Committee process; (3) when making overall policy decisions, the committee provides authority for the government to transmit classified information associated with military items but does not approve the actual transfer of those items; (4) it does not typically address whether systems must be sold through the Foreign Military Sales program or a direct commercial sale; (5) the committee has a process for reviewing exceptions to the National Disclosure Policy; (6) within the National Disclosure Policy framework, separate organizations within the military departments recommend whether the requested items under their jurisdiction may be sold and manage the sales; (7) the U.S. government has not established a process for ensuring that certain controlled items are fully and systematically identified when reviewing requests or approving agreements under the Foreign Military Sales program; (8) as a result of weaknesses in the review process, items controlled by an international missile nonproliferation agreement have been transferred under the program without proper review and approval; (9) as structured, DOD's proposals to reform the Foreign Military Sales program are primarily focused on reducing time for making technology transfer decisions; (10) in considering DOD's efforts to shorten the processing time, officials acknowledge the need to properly assess the national security risks and benefits of proposed transfers; (11) a DOD and industry working group proposes more rigorously implementing requirements to make technology transfer assessments early in the planning of a weapon program; and (12) such assessments are a means of expediting technology transfer decisions when responding to foreign customers' requests.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: While the Department of Defense is primarily responsible for ensuring that ongoing Foreign Military Sales reinvention efforts include proposals to improve the identification process for controlled missile technology, the State Department has provided input to Defense on such efforts. None of Defense's reinvention efforts (current or completed) have included changes to the process for identifying controlled missile technology.

    Recommendation: To provide for proper review and approval of proposed exports of controlled technologies through the Foreign Military Sales program, the Secretaries of State and Defense should establish a process to reflect this process in ongoing reinvention efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense revised its security assistance manual to require Military Department personnel to identify Foreign Military Sales cases that include possible missile technology controlled items. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency then forwards this information to the State Department's Political Military Bureau, Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers, which forwards such cases to the appropriate personnel with missile technology expertise for review.

    Recommendation: To provide for proper review and approval of proposed exports of controlled technologies through the Foreign Military Sales program, the Secretaries of State and Defense should establish a process to direct the Missile Technology Export Control group or other nonproliferation groups to review missile technology-related items or other controlled items to ensure compliance with the nonproliferation agreements.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Working with the Department of Defense, the State Department's Regional Security and Arms Transfer Directorate has developed a procedure to have the Defense Security Cooperation Agency identify and refer all Foreign Military Sales cases that contain controlled missile technology. The State Department then forwards such cases to the appropriate personnel within the State Department. This procedure was implemented in October 2001.

    Recommendation: To provide for proper review and approval of proposed exports of controlled technologies through the Foreign Military Sales program, the Secretaries of State and Defense should establish a process to direct the Missile Technology Export Control group or other nonproliferation groups to review missile technology-related items or other controlled items to ensure compliance with the nonproliferation agreements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Since October 2001, the Regional Security and Arms Transfer Directorate has been receiving notifications from the Defense Department's Defense Security Cooperation Agency when Foreign Military Sales cases contain controlled missile technology.

    Recommendation: To provide for proper review and approval of proposed exports of controlled technologies through the Foreign Military Sales program, the Secretaries of State and Defense should establish a process to refer the information to State.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To provide for proper review and approval of proposed exports of controlled technologies through the Foreign Military Sales program, the Secretaries of State and Defense should establish a process to refer the information to State.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The State Department worked with the Department of Defense on the changes it made to the Security Assistance Management Manual in May 2001, establishing a process for Military Department personnel to identify all Foreign Military Sales cases that contain technology controlled by the Missile Technology Control Regime. This process was implemented in October 2001, after the Military Departments provided training to personnel on identifying missile technology items controlled by the Regime.

    Recommendation: To provide for proper review and approval of proposed exports of controlled technologies through the Foreign Military Sales program, the Secretaries of State and Defense should establish a process to identify all items on a proposed Foreign Military Sales agreement that are controlled under the Missile Technology Control Regime or other nonproliferation agreements by taking full advantage of the expertise that resides in the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the military services, or elsewhere.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To provide for proper review and approval of proposed exports of controlled technologies through the Foreign Military Sales program, the Secretaries of State and Defense should establish a process to identify all items on a proposed Foreign Military Sales agreement that are controlled under the Missile Technology Control Regime or other nonproliferation agreements by taking full advantage of the expertise that resides in the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the military services, or elsewhere.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: To provide for proper review and approval of proposed exports of controlled technologies through the Foreign Military Sales program, the Secretaries of State and Defense should establish a process to reflect this process in ongoing reinvention efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 22, 2016

Sep 21, 2016

Sep 19, 2016

Sep 12, 2016

Sep 8, 2016

Sep 7, 2016

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 25, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here