What is an export?
Export controls present unique challenges to universities because they require balancing concerns about national security and economic vitality with traditional academic concepts of unrestricted freedom and the publication and dissemination of research findings and results. University awareness of export control laws and regulations is critical because of heightened concerns about homeland security. There are significant civil and criminal penalties for violating these rules.
In addition to the obvious actual shipment of a commodity out of the country, exports include:
- Transfer of controlled physical items, such as equipment, to foreign countries or non-U.S. persons in the United States or abroad
- Transfer or disclosure of information or technical data (including visual disclosure through observation) to foreign countries or non-U.S. persons in the United States or abroad
- Provision of services outside the United States or to entities outside the United States
Laws and policies apply to items (including software, supercomputers, commodities, and technologies) as well as to information. You must obtain an export license if any controlled technology, information, software, or equipment will be transferred to another party overseas or to a foreign party in the United States unless a valid licensing exception or exclusion applies.
A key exemption for academic institutions is fundamental research, which is defined as basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which are published and shared broadly within the scientific community. However, vigilance is required to ensure that the availability of the fundamental research exemption (FRE) is not lost due to inadvertent acceptance of contractually imposed restrictions on access to, dissemination of, or participation in research. For assistance identifying FRE-compliant activities, see this Export Control Decision Tree.
Technology Control Plan
A Technology Control Plan (TCP) is required for all research involving data, material, or technology that is not covered by the fundamental research exemption. Georgia Tech has developed a Master TCP for projects with GT-only personnel and when there is no expectation of exporting data, technology, equipment, information, or materials to a foreign person, company or government.
Export control regulations are complex and constantly evolving. Contact the export control staff in the Office of Research Integrity Assurance (ORIA) for assistance.