The U.S. defense industry and some foreign government purchasers
have expressed concern that the U.S. export control process is
unnecessarily burdensome. Defense industry officials contend that
extended reviews of export license applications by the State
Department have resulted in lost sales and are harming the nation's
defense industry. The State Department's Office of Defense Trade
Controls is responsible for licensing the export and temporary
import of defense articles and services. Many license applications
take a long time to review because of their complexity and the need
to consider different points of view. However, several conditions
make the application review process less efficient and cause
delays. The State Department has not established formal guidelines
for determining the agencies and offices that need to review
license applications. As a result, the licensing office refers more
license applications to other agencies and offices than may be
necessary. Furthermore, many license application reviewers in State
Department reviewing offices consider license reviews a low
priority. The State Department lacks procedures to monitor the flow
of license applications through the review process. The State
Department has hired new licensing officers which license office
officials say has decreased processing time, and plans to upgrade
the office's electronic business system. However, the planned
upgrade needs to (1) ensure a controlled and timely flow of
applications and (2) track the progress of applications.
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