These days when we’re in need of information on an unfamiliar topic our first thought is often to “Google it.” Usually, these initial searches generate plenty of useful results. But actually differentiating between the websites that contain accurate and reliable information and those that may be misleading can be quite the challenge. Making this distinction becomes all the more important when the information you are seeking will be used for export compliance purposes and inaccurate conclusions can potentially lead to costly and time consuming violations that could have disastrous effects on your business.
The websites of the Government Printing Office (GPO), the State Department, the Commerce Department as well as private law firm publications, blogs, and news outlets are but a few sources that pop up when you type in your ITAR or EAR related search term. The trouble is that since new final rules and legislation constantly revise the text of these regulations, often in very significant ways, there is no guarantee that the link or pdf provided on a given website will lead to the most current version of the regulations. Even the US government’s GPO website does not update its copies of the ITAR and EAR every time a new final rule amends them (currently, a version from January, 1 2014 is provided).
Trying to reconcile conflicting versions of the EAR or ITAR can be an overwhelming task. Luckily, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) websites appear to update their versions of these two regulatory instruments as soon as a rule amending them goes into force. For example, the amendments to the EAR made by the final rule that was released by BIS yesterday (June 5th) have already been made to the version available on the website. It makes sense that BIS and DDTC, as the two offices within the Commerce and State Departments that are most intimately involved in promulgating these regulatory regimes, would be the most authoritative source when it comes to the text of the EAR and ITAR.
So, when you want to confirm that you are looking at the current version of the EAR always refer to the BIS website. And when you want to make sure the ITAR text you are working with is up to date go to the DDTC website. Following this rule of thumb will ensure you are working with the most accurate version of the regulations and put you in the best position to make the right determination and remain compliant.