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Princeton penalized for research-related export control violations


By David Schwartz
Published: February 23rd, 2021

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry & Security (BIS) has announced a settlement with Princeton University in connection with 37 alleged violations of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) that govern exports of commercial goods, software and technology.

While the financial penalty of $54,000 is relatively minor, and the BIS notes that the violations were not nefarious and did not endanger impact national, the settlement is a valuable reminder of the need for careful compliance with export control rules and regulations. It often falls to research offices to ensure that faculty — many of whom may be non-U.S. nationals — are aware of their responsibilities under U.S. export law.

According to BIS, the violations occurred when Princeton exported strains and recombinants of animal pathogens to non-U.S. research institutions in 15 countries without obtaining the necessary export licenses.

In addition to the monetary penalty, Princeton agreed to complete one external audit within six months of the settlement date and one subsequent internal audit of its export compliance program.  The results of those audits must be submitted to BIS, along with detailed plans for any necessary corrective actions.

The university must also submit two reports — one due 12 months from the settlement date, the other due 24 months from the settlement date — describing any export compliance enhancements it has made. Failure to meet any of these requirements could lead to additional penalties, including Princeton losing its export privileges.

With the exception of China, most of the countries that received the exports are close U.S. allies and the material involved was clearly aimed at medical research. But the purpose of an export is ultimately not relevant to whether necessary authorizations are obtained.

For universities, it’s important to note that students, postdocs, and faculty are often not U.S. nationals and are viewed by export control regs as if they were still in their home countries.  Export-controlled technical data shared with a non-U.S. national in the U.S. is treated the same as if a hard copy of that data was sent by courier to the individual’s home country.

Source: Bass, Berry & Sims GovCon & Trade

EAR/ITAR Compliance Workshop: Understanding and Managing Export Control in University Research and Technology Transfer is a distance learning program that reviews the EAR/ITAR regulations and discuss key definitions and compliance strategies related to deemed exports. Click here for details.

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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