DOD to streamline export licensing

USXports fact sheet

A new Defense Department program to process export license requests electronically will save time, money, paperwork and manpower while also improving national, security, DOD officials say.

DOD kicked off the U.S. Export Systems Automation Initiative with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the program office near the Pentagon on Tuesday.

DOD officials are in the final steps of reviewing a mission needs statement for the three-year, $30 million program, dubbed USXports. The statement essentially explains why a particular system is needed and often is one of the first steps in the acquisition process.

The Commerce Department is testing the system's first prototype to gauge its ability to support the electronic delivery of technical documents from industry to government. And the National Security Agency is reviewing the system's security measures.

System communications requirements will be evaluated and implemented this year. The system will be integrated with existing systems; the program is scheduled to be completed in 2003.

The program office is developing a plan to field software incrementally while improving the export licensing process.

The existing export licensing process requires a great deal of paperwork and takes an average of about 40 days. If a company wants to export military radar equipment to Germany, for example, it applies for an export license through the departments of State and Commerce, which then submit the requests to the Pentagon for review.

The Pentagon requires detailed technical information, which it may send to the individual services, agencies or other organizations for a more detailed review. And if the company wants to export the same radar to Japan, it must go through the entire process again.

"One of the key objectives here is to work with those two departments to get the electrons that are associated with that technical documentation, along with the export licenses, linked up, and sent over the air," said David Tarbell, director of the Defense Technology Security Administration.

Automating the process promises to save millions of dollars, as well as time and personnel.

"We've done a preliminary economic analysis that shows a 300 percent return on investment," said Lothar Harris, USXports' interagency program manager. "Industry is real excited about this program because a big chunk of that 300 percent return on investment accrues to them."

The new system also is expected to increase national security by improving the government's ability to use information technology tools, such as keyword searches, to thoroughly analyze exports and better enforce controls.

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