Office of Research Search

Policies and Regulations

Information in this resource was derived from materials from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP).

UTD Policy

UTD complies fully with U.S. export control laws and regulations, including those implemented by the Department of Commerce through its Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the Department of State through International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and the Department of the Treasury through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Technology in the Public Domain

It is the policy of The University of Texas at Dallas that instruction, research, and services will be accomplished openly and without prohibitions on the publication and dissemination of the results of academic and research activities. Academic research is typically conducted openly, and most research activities are not subject to export control regulations. In certain circumstances the export of technology, including particular technical and scientific data, is prohibited or requires a license. "Controlled" technologies require an export license unless their research is shown to be available in the public domain. National Security Decision Directive-189 describes research as available in the public domain if it passes this two-prong test: research results are freely publishable, and there are no restrictions on the access and dissemination of research results. Either publication restrictions (excepting limited reviews for patent protection or removal of proprietary information) or limitations on the access or dissemination of research results remove the information from the public domain and invalidate the "fundamental research" exclusion. In addition, "educational information" is not subject to the EAR if it is released by instruction in catalog courses and associated teaching laboratories of academic institutions.

Export Control Licenses

The Associate Vice President for Research is UTD's "Empowered Official" for export control issues. In coordination with the Office of Sponsored Projects, the Empowered Official arranges for appropriate support to address export control and license issues, and is authorized to sign license applications on behalf of UTD to the Departments of State, Commerce, and Treasury. Licenses typically take from two to six months to procure.

Informal Agreements

A research institution like UTD requires constant communication to accomplish its goals. Much of that communication tends to be informal, and these conversations can quickly become informal agreements made between researchers and sponsors with respect to decisions at the discretion of the researcher (e.g., not to submit research articles for publication until they have been approved by the sponsor). These agreements can invalidate the fundamental research exclusion, exposing the researcher and University to the heavy penalties subsequent to a violation of export control laws. Researchers must clearly understand compliance with export control laws is not discretionary, and ignoring them invites serious consequences. Violations may instigate civil and criminal penalties, large fines assessed to the University and the researchers, and the suspension of research programs.

Guidelines for Exchanges of Technical Information

Most exchanges between researchers may proceed without an export license because the purpose of the meeting is to present research findings that have been or are intended to be published. International conferences and/or presentations of research limited to published or publishable research are covered by the "publicly available/public domain" exclusions provided by the regulations, excepting when these exchanges involve detailed information on defense articles found on the U.S. Munitions List (USML). When these discussions take place during participation in these conferences or presentations, no export license is needed.

On the other hand, where the possibility of exchange with a foreign national or foreign entity of technical information not yet published regarding a defense article found on the USML exists, the researchers should be aware of the following:

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) only permits the unlicensed export of:

  • General systems description of defense articles
  • Basic marketing information on function or purpose
  • Information concerning general scientific, mathematical, or engineering principles commonly taught in schools, colleges, and universities
  • Information in the public domain:
    • available through sale at newsstands and bookstores;
    • on a website; through subscriptions that are available without restriction to any individual who desires to obtain or purchase the published information;
    • at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents;
    • through patents available at any patent office;
    • through unlimited distribution at a conference meeting seminar, trade show, or exhibition generally accessible to the public in the United States; and
    • through fundamental research in science and engineering at accredited institutions of higher learning in the United States, where the resulting information is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community.

Technical information for categories such as top-level drawings, top-level narrative descriptions or summaries of performance requirements, key subsystems, design capabilities, or manufacturing facilities are not controlled by ITAR. Likewise, the top-level description of reliability analyses, top-level block diagrams, top-level description of operational modes, top-level equipment layout drawings, and top-level predictions of power usage or consumption do not require a license.

However, technical information that is likely to be ITAR controlled—and thus requires an export license before sharing with a foreign national or foreign entity—includes unpublished, detailed information about "how-to" design, manufacture, and test; design, manufacture, test methodology, or philosophy; technical trade-off methodology or detailed alternatives; detailed test data or test procedures; detailed description of integration and test plans; or detailed schematic diagrams or interface information, as well as manufacturing or assembly processes and analytical methods of procedures.

Researchers also should be aware that exports of technical information about a defense article can take place through exchange of documents, through oral exchanges in person or by telephone, or by electronic exchanges, including fax transmission or e-mail. Furthermore, the ITAR prohibits the furnishing of assistance, including training, related to a defense article to foreign persons. It is especially important to recognize that, while the information itself may be in the public domain, any interaction with foreign persons about the information can, under certain circumstances, be controlled. The "defense services" provision of the ITAR controls the interaction between U.S. and foreign persons of any information that is required for the design, development, production, manufacture, assembly, operation, repair, testing, maintenance, or modification of defense articles such as spacecraft. While it does not include information concerning general scientific, mathematical, or engineering principles, defense services can be based entirely on exchanges of information in the public domain. Indeed, the largest export control fine ever issued by the State Department involved the exchange of public domain information.