By Tom Reynolds, Export Solutions

There’s a lot of chatter among the export control community this week about the status of export license applications and other activities in light of the U.S. federal government shutdown. Some of the questions I’ve seen posted to discussion boards and blogs include:

  • Is my export license on hold now? Or are licensing officers (LOs) considered “essential” employees?
  • How will the shutdown affect the timing on my CJ or CCATS request?
And my personal favorite …
  • If I am unable to get the correct answer from a government agency about my export, and I later find out that my export was illegal, will I be able to claim as my defense that the government denied me the proper resources to complete my due diligence?
In some ways, I think it’s too early to tell how the shutdown will impact export compliance activities over the long-term. A lot depends on how long this ensues. DDTC has posted a brief bit of guidance on its homepage, advising exporters that operations will continue normally “at least through Friday, October 4.” However, State also warned that other government agencies involved in reviewing/approving export licenses are operating on a very limited basis. I’ve also read elsewhere that export license applications are being limited to only those which support direct U.S. military combat operations, and then on a case-by-case basis.

Over at the Commerce Department, BIS posted today a statement at the top of its homepage advising that all export licensing activity, classification requests and other activities are currently on hold. The agency’s SNAP-R system is also unavailable and will not reactivate until the shutdown is over. Any pending requests will be held without action until the shutdown ends. However, it’s also interesting to note that export enforcement officers are among those listed as “excepted positions” in the agency’s shutdown contingency plans

The OFAC website doesn’t contain any specifics, other than a general shutdown notice. It’s worth noting that the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List will continue to be updated, despite the shutdown. No word on the status of OFAC license applications.

Time will tell the effect of this shutdown over the coming days and weeks. The longer the lapse in funding continues, the more those of us in the exporting community will start to feel the “pinch” of having our licenses on hold and our case activity suspended. One thing is certain, though: all Americans will be impacted in some way by Tuesday’s shutdown … even those who are simply trying to get Twitter updates on potentially dangerous asteroid activity

Tom Reynolds is the President of Export Solutions, a consultancy firm which specializes in helping companies with import/export compliance.