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Export Controls: Agency Actions and Proposed Reform Initiatives May Address Previously Identified Weaknesses, but Challenges Remain

GAO-11-135R Published: Nov 16, 2010. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 2010.
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Each year, billions of dollars in arms and "dual-use" items--items that have both commercial and military applications--are exported to U.S. allies and strategic partners. To further national security, foreign policy, and economic interests, the U.S. government controls the export of these items. Over the past 10 years, we have reported on numerous weaknesses in the export control system, including poor coordination among the multiple agencies involved, which have led to jurisdictional disputes and enforcement challenges, and the lack of systematic assessment of the overall effectiveness of the export control system. As a result, since 2007 the arms and dual-use export control systems have been included as part of our high-risk area on ensuring the effective protection of technologies critical to U.S. national security interests. We have also called for a strategic reexamination of existing programs within the U.S. export control system to identify needed changes and ensure the advancement of U.S. interests. In August 2009, the President announced that he had directed a comprehensive review of the U.S. export control system and, in April 2010, proposed a framework under which the current system would be streamlined to include a single export control list, a single licensing agency, a single primary enforcement coordination agency, and a single information technology system. The Administration has since provided updates on its reform initiatives, announcing specific actions that are being implemented using a phased approach.

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