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What are export controls? How might this apply to my research?

Broadly defined, export controls refer to the federal regulations that govern the international transfer of items and information. Due to the global nature of Tufts’ research environment, there are many different areas in which the regular operations of university research can intersect with these regulations. In the case of international travel or collaboration, research equipment or data leaving the country may be subject to export control regulations. Furthermore, non-U.S. citizens may be restricted from access to export-sensitive materials in Tufts laboratories. Additionally, the responsible federal agencies maintain lists of restricted entities, both foreign and domestic, with whom transactions may constitute a violation – as well as broadly restrict transactions with OFAC sanctioned countries.

What government agencies are responsible for export regulation and enforcement?

The Departments of State, Commerce, Treasury and Defense are primarily responsible for administering export control regulation and enforcement. Under certain conditions, the USDA, Department of Energy, and NASA may also have jurisdiction. The State Department maintains a list of the involved departments and their roles in enforcing export compliance on their website.

What types of research are exempt from export controls regulation? What research areas are considered high risk?

Any research that can be considered “fundamental research,” defined as basic and applied research in science and engineering falls under a general exemption to export controls regulations. This designation implies that the results of the research are intended to be published and shared within the scientific community. Any research which results in the production of proprietary information or technologies, or research in which Tufts has accepted publication or citizenship clauses from the sponsor, is subject to export controls.

What is a deemed export?

Under the federal export regulations, domestic sharing of technology and data with non-U.S. citizens is considered a “deemed export”. The moment of export is considered to be the point at which access is gained to export-sensitive material in Tufts laboratories. While the vast majority of deemed exports that occur in the course of research are not regulated by export controls regulations, it is important that appropriate review be conducted of laboratories using export sensitive technologies to determine that no violations have occurred.

What can I do to ensure my international travel is export compliant?

If you plan to travel for research, it is important to ensure that no inadvertent violations occur while abroad. Please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Research to register your travel. It is important that the entities and institutions that Tufts researchers collaborate and interact with abroad be screened against the agencies’ restricted parties lists to avoid a violation. The Office of the Vice Provost for research can also assist with obtaining any necessary travel or shipment authorizations. Please be sure to notify the Office of the Vice Provost for Research to any travel as early as possible, as processing times for export license applications can be anywhere from 30 to 60 days.

The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) broadly sanctions the following countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea & Syria. Any professional travel to these countries requires a prior review and export control authorization. If you intend to travel to any OFAC sanctioned countries, please reach out to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (exportcontrol@tufts.edu) for guidance.

What should I do if I plan to ship items internationally?

Please reach out to the Operational Purchasing office (Luke.Duffney@tufts.edu) with information on the shipment. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research has partnered with the Purchasing department to conduct export license determinations. If a license for export is necessary, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research will be happy to help acquire one.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Civil penalties for export non-compliance can total up to $500,000 per violation and are levied against the institution. Penalties can also include federal debarment. Export controls violations in which an individual is deemed responsible may also be referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution, with criminal penalties up to $1,000,000 per violation and up to 10 years imprisonment.

What should I do if I become aware of an export controls violation?

The vast majority of export controls violations are inadvertent. If you become aware of a potential violation or would like clarification on what might constitute a violation, please reach out to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (exportcontrol@tufts.edu) or notify your chairperson or Dean. Anonymous reporting is also available via Tufts EthicsPoint hotline. Early reporting is key in mitigating any potential penalties, so please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.