Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How Defense Contractors Protect Technology - Applying NISPOM and ITAR

Red Bike Publishing's ITAR
Defense Contractors providing defense items or services have the tremendous responsibility of keeping the technology out of the wrong hands. As identified in the ITAR, unauthorized release of technical information can affect the US military's fighting capability. Licenses and agreements provide a checks and balances between the US Government and the US Company desiring to export the technology. The company identifies the technology and application and submits export requests to the State Department. The State Department reviews the application and further researches military application and how the export could affect national defense.

Without such checks and balances, other countries could gain a technological advantage. Consider the GPS and night vision technology. No other nation has the abilities as the US does to operate at all times and in all weather. The US military's technological lead creates the ability to determine, where, when and how to fight. When other nations gain unauthorized technology, they can duplicate US products and either fight like the US military or degrade US military effectiveness.

According to the ITAR, organizations are required to have permission prior to exporting technology to non-US persons. The organization is responsible for understanding the permissions required as well as the exemptions and the documentation necessary to ensure compliance. The ITAR governs defense technology exports and is a broad regulation subject to interpretation by the exporting organization.

An export is simply transferring controlled technology to a foreign person either inside or outside the US. The export or transfer is conducted in many different ways and the following is a list of examples:

•hand carrying

•performing a service or demonstration

•reading blueprints, plans using software or other computer media

•turning over ownership of vehicles, equipment or other items identified on the US Munitions List

Technology refers to specific information one would find necessary to reproduce, develop or use an item and can be classified or unclassified. Also, the technology can be a product such as a model, blueprint, or instruction book. Technology can also be a service, instruction or some type of training.

What is a US Person?

Citizenship designation is defined differently in the ITAR and NISPOM. The ITAR addresses export of items with military application and NISPOM is concerned with protecting classified information. According to the ITAR, the definition of a US person includes those who have applied for citizenship to the US. This includes lawful permanent residents, lawful temporary residents, US citizens and nationals, and US organizations. These US persons may not be citizens, but are still authorized access to technical data without requiring export permissions. However, the NISPOM requirements prevent such US persons from having a security clearance. When access to classified information is necessary, a Limited Access Authorization (LAA) may be requested. US persons can access technology controlled items without a license, but only US citizens with a clearance and need to know can access classified information.

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