Export licenses are handled primarily by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), in addition to agencies with export control oversight in the Defense and Energy departments.
BIS also has been forced to put other export control requests, such as classification requests, encryption reviews and registrations and advisory opinions, on hold during the shutdown.
“This means that no applications that were pending prior to the shutdown have been further processed and any new applications will not be reviewed until the government shutdown has stopped,” said Paul DiVecchio, principal of Boston-based export control consultancy firm DiVecchio & Associates.
In particular, he said BIS’ halt in processing license applications and other requests has placed a significant administrative burden on the export compliance operations of many of his clients.
The last time that U.S. exporters experienced a similar administrative backlog in the federal government regarding export licenses and requests occurred during the 17-day shutdown in October 2013.
“Suffice to say that exporters who need these licenses from Commerce and State operate in an extremely competitive global marketplace and these types of delays only harm our exports and economy at large,” said Eric Hirschhorn, who served as undersecretary for industry and security and head of BIS during the Obama administration.
“Obviously, it’s going to take some time to clear out the license backlog,” he added. “BIS is already stretched thin.”