By Don Buehler

The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has launched two new, online tools to help manufacturers and exporters begin to apply some of the recent changes under the export control reform initiative. These tools can be useful as your company prepares for the final rules to take effect this October. Each tool utilizes a series of “yes/no” questions to walk the user through a web-based decision tree. If each question is answered accurately, the tool will guide you to the correct decision or outcome about the topic.

The two export control reform tools are summarized below. You can test-drive both tools for yourself at this page on the BIS website.

  • CCL Order of Review Tool: This tool will help users classify items that are subject to the EAR. It corresponds to the new CCL Order of Review in Supplement 4 to Part 774 of the EAR. Although this tool is described as one which “provides guidance for how to classify items in light of the addition of the 600 series of ECCNs”, I think it’s a useful tool for anyone who is trying to navigate the CCL.
  • Specially Designed Decision Tool: As the name implies, this tool will help you determine if your specially-designed item meets the definition of “specially-designed” after October 15, 2013. If you’re unfamiliar with this new definition, or any of the associated export compliance terminology, then using this tool for the first time will require a significant amount of reading, study and background research. However, BIS does a nice job of providing cross-references and links for those who need them.

It’s important to remember that using these tools does not guarantee your item is/is not ITAR or EAR controlled. (Yes, the same rule of “garbage in / garbage out” still applies). Ultimately, if you’re unsure about using these tools or applying the new rules, it’s still best to get some expert advice and guidance.

However, the new tools go a long way in helping companies apply the export control reforms to their business. Also worth noting: these tools are in addition to a previously-released third tool, which helps companies understand and apply a similar decision tree for utilizing license exception STA.

What’s next on the horizon? Perhaps an ITAR/EAR decision tree app? In this culture of export reforms, only time will tell.

Don Buehler is founder and president of Export Solutions, Inc., a consultancy firm which specializes in helping companies comply with ITAR and EAR.