DOD to streamline export licensing

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

DOD kicked off the U.S. Export Systems Automation Initiative with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 16 at the program office near the Pentagon.

DOD officials are in the final steps of reviewing a mission-needs statement for the three-year, $30 million program, dubbed USXports. Such a 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.

During 2001, system communications requirements will be evaluated and implemented and 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.

"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.

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