Importance of Export Control Compliance

A Message from John C. Hemminger, Vice Chancellor for Research:

The University of California, Irvine is committed to upholding and preserving our principles of academic freedom, which reflect the University’s mission of education, research and public service. At the same time the University must comply with all applicable U.S. export control laws and regulations.

Export controls regulate technologies and technical data/information that are taken to other countries by U.S. travelers or imparted to foreign nationals working in the U.S. These controls are intended to protect U.S. economic interests and foreign policy goals, as well as to prevent the acquisition of technologies and technical data/information by parties hostile to the U.S.

Understanding export controls is especially important for academic researchers whose work depends on an open exchange of ideas. Because many ordinary aspects of academic work fall under the purview of export controls, academic researchers need to know how to comply with the regulations and when their research activities are exempt.

There are currently three federal agencies that collectively administer export control regulations. They are: U.S.

  • Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), which is responsible for International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR);
  • U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which is responsible for Export Administration Regulations (EAR); and
  • U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is responsible for managing economic sanctions and embargos.

To allow universities free engagement in academic research, the federal government has established and implemented National Security Decision Directive 189, which establishes an exemption for “fundamental research.” The Fundamental Research Exemption (FRE) applies to:

…basic and applied research in science and engineering, the results of which ordinarily are published and shared broadly within the scientific community, as distinguished from proprietary research and from industrial development, design, production, and product utilization, the results of which ordinarily are restricted for proprietary or national security reasons.

The applicability of the FRE to academic research hinges on two primary factors: 1) the ability to perform fundamental research without restrictions (e.g., foreign nationals are not prohibited or restricted from carrying out the research, the research is not classified, etc.), and 2) the ability to broadly share and disseminate research results. It is important to note that the FRE is not applicable to developmental research.

If the University or one of its researchers accepts restrictions on research project access or restrictions on the publication or dissemination of fundamental research results (other than ordinary prepublication review), the FRE is no longer applicable to the research and an export license may be required.

We must protect this fundamental research exemption. At the same time, we must recognize that many University activities, both inside and outside of research, are subject to export control regulations. Here are just a few examples:

  • Shipping or transferring equipment and biologicals, and sharing software across U.S. borders, may require a license before export.
  • Collaborating with a colleague residing in an embargoed country (currently, Cuba, Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea) may violate OFAC regulations that restrict the provision of services to those countries.
  • Receiving export controlled data from a sponsor can nullify the FRE. Accepting publication delays in excess of 90 days or allowing a sponsor to have approval rights or control over University publications nullifies the FRE. This occurs regardless of whether such rights are provided through an agreement between the University and a sponsor or other entity or made separately (verbally or in writing) between a researcher and a sponsor or other entity.

UCI community members are responsible for knowing how export controls apply to their work and for complying with export control regulations. Violations can result in personal and institutional liability including fines and imprisonment.

Tools and more information regarding export control regulations can be found at:  Questions regarding export controls should be directed to Marci Copeland, Export Control Offier at or Nancy Lewis, Director of Sponsored Projects Administration at

John C. Hemminger
Vice Chancellor for Research
Professor of Chemistry

UCI Policy on Export Controls

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  • UCI DUNS #:04-670-5849
  • UCI EIN #: 95-2226406
  • NIH Profile: 577504
  • NSF Code:0013144000
  • NAICS Code: 611310
  • IRB FWA: 00004071
  • AWA: A3416-01
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