By Don Buehler

How Your Business Benefits From ITAR Consultants

Navigating the complexities of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is crucial for companies involved in trade compliance.

With stringent requirements from the Department of State, including detailed policies, licensing, training, and auditing, the role of an ITAR consultant becomes invaluable. These experts understand the specific needs of each department within your organization and stay abreast of the latest ITAR updates and how they might affect your business.

By leveraging their vast experience and insights from other clients, ITAR consultants offer best practices and tailored solutions, ensuring your company maintains compliance and operates efficiently within the ITAR framework.

Let’s take a look at some ways ITAR consulting can benefit your business, and how ITAR needs to be considered for each department within your organization.

ITAR Licensing

As a business owner, navigating the complexities of ITAR licensing can be daunting. Our ITAR consultants are here to simplify this process for you.

They’re skilled in preparing or reviewing Department of State licenses via the DECCS portal, ensuring your company can swiftly export technical data, market ITAR-regulated defense articles globally, sell products and deliver services to international customers. Their expertise ensures your business complies with regulations, enabling timely and effective market entry.

ITAR Registration

If you manufacture defense items, export technical data, or offer defense services, ITAR registration is crucial. This not only aligns with the Department of State’s requirements but also ensures adherence to U.S. export laws, a necessity underscored by prime contractors and the DFARS in domestic contracts.

Our ITAR consultants excel in assisting businesses, whether it’s your initial registration, updates due to company changes, or guidance through mergers and acquisitions. Let us streamline your ITAR registration process for swift and effective compliance.

Voluntary Disclosures

Whether you’re running a small or large business, it’s common to encounter ITAR compliance challenges. ITAR outlines a voluntary disclosure process, enabling businesses to report violations to the Department of State, which then determines the violation’s nature and severity.

Our ITAR consultants are here to guide you through this process, assist with investigations, craft your voluntary disclosure, and establish corrective measures. This proactive approach demonstrates your commitment to compliance, ensuring such oversights are prevented in the future.

ITAR Compliance Programs

The State Department mandates that registered firms maintain a documented program to adhere to ITAR guidelines. This requirement varies for each company, emphasizing the uniqueness of compliance needs.

Our seasoned ITAR consultants offer unparalleled expertise in crafting tailored ITAR manuals, plans, and procedures. Instead of facing the challenge alone, leverage our consultants’ years of experience to expedite and enhance your ITAR compliance efforts, ensuring they meet the specific expectations of the State Department.

ITAR Training & Ongoing Education

Ongoing ITAR training is a core component of ITAR compliance, and deficiencies in this area can lead to non-compliance issues. Our ITAR consultants are here to tailor training solutions to your needs, offering everything from PowerPoint presentations for learning systems to in-person sessions and customized webinars.

We aim to ensure your team comprehensively understands how ITAR regulations impact their roles and your business, fostering a culture of compliance and awareness regarding the export of ITAR-regulated goods, technical data, and defense services.

10 Questions To Help You Choose An ITAR Consultant

Now that we have covered what an ITAR consultant is and why they are essential for your business, let’s look at what you should consider when choosing an ITAR consultant.

You will notice early on as you search for a compliance consultant that many ITAR consultants like to throw around big words and use fancy labels like “export expert,” etc.

These 10 questions/considerations will help filter out all but the best con artists. They’ll also identify consultants who think they know export compliance because their former employers sent them to a seminar last year.

1. Does The ITAR Compliance Consultant Have Real-World Experience?

Have they ever set foot inside a manufacturing plant, engineering center, research lab, or other location where ITAR work occurs?

ITAR consultants are a special breed because they need years of hands-on experience with company operations while also have highly technical knowledge about international trade laws. This is why professional ITAR consulting firms often bill with retainer fees- because ITAR consultants need to blend real-world business knowledge with current laws and regulations. All of this adds up to lots of time in the background as the ITAR consultant works to prevent your company from receiving penalties and address issues as they arise.

If they’ve spent the last 25 years with their nose buried in a book or behind a desk at the U.S. government, they’re probably very smart but equally impractical in the real world of your company’s operations.

2. Has The ITAR Consultant Helped Companies Through Voluntary Disclosure?

Have they ever helped a company mitigate (or avoid) a fine or penalty through a voluntary disclosure?

In a perfect world, your ITAR consultants would always be ahead of the curve, and your business would avoid penalties that can impact its operations. However, due to the highly complex and ever-changing world of ITAR regulations and trade laws, you should hire ITAR consultants who know how to react to situations promptly.

One way you depend on your ITAR consultants in such times is through voluntary disclosures and other actions that come up due to government audits.

If you ask a potential ITAR consultant if they have conducted a Voluntary Disclosure and they answer with “No,” then this means you don’t want their first test case to be you.  Anything else is probably OK, as long as they don’t divulge confidential client details.

3. Have You Worked With My Particular Product Before?

A lot of companies feel like they can only work with an ITAR consultant if they have intimate knowledge of their particular products.

This is really a myth that needs to be debunked. Despite what you may think, you do not need an ITAR consultant who is a Subject Matter Expert on your product or technology. Instead, what you need is a consultant who is a SME on the regulations. After all, no one knows your company’s products better than you do.

A good ITAR consultant will know how your products are controlled and be able to help you navigate the approvals for exports or deemed exports, jurisdiction and licenses/agreements. That’s what you need.

4. Test Their Knowledge With A Specific ITAR Question

Briefly describe your product or service, and then ask them how it would be classified under ITAR or EAR. If they say, “Probably EAR99,” you should hang up the phone.

Your ITAR consultant needs to have a firm grasp of international trade laws and your company’s products. However, you should also expect your ITAR consultant to explain every detail to you in an easy-to-understand fashion. Since your business is ultimately responsible for ITAR compliance, you should expect that your ITAR consultants can provide prompt updates to you in a way that you and your team can understand.

If they say, “It’s really complicated. I would need more information,” and then they start using terms like “form, fit or function” and “ECCN,” you’re probably in good shape.

5. ITAR Consultants Can’t Have “Partnerships”

Do they have any partnership agreements with DDTC, BIS, or OFAC?  If they say “yes,” ensure they aren’t calling you from prison.

ITAR consulting firms are private businesses, and ITAR consultants work for your benefit. The government regulates companies (like yours) when it comes to international trade. You wouldn’t want an ITAR consultant who plays both sides of the field—you and your entire company could be in great risk if an ITAR consultant says they are partners with the U.S. government.

Any reputable consultant will sound like they just drank the water down the wrong pipe and then explain that government agencies do not endorse or partner with anyone.

6. Ask If The ITAR Consultant Can Get Your Company Certified

Can they make your company “ITAR certified”? If they say “Yes, absolutely!” they’ll be good for comic relief.

“No ITAR certification program exists for companies, but we can help you mitigate risk and show maximum due diligence under the law” means you should buy that consultant a drink.

It’s unfortunate, but several of our current clients came to us after they were caught off-guard with fines from their ITAR consultants not doing their job. Those clients were told by their ITAR consulting firm that the company was covered under a blanket (and non-existent) “ITAR Compliance Certification.” Your company is responsible for remaining compliant in all areas of ITAR and international trade regulations, and you should expect your ITAR consultants always to work to ensure you are compliant with ITAR laws and regulations.

7. Is The ITAR Compliance Consultant Updated On The Latest Regulation Changes?

How do they stay current on the regulations?  “The regulations never change” means they haven’t read the ITAR or EAR in at least six months.

“We get email updates on changes and notify our clients if they apply,” is a reasonable response. Since politics and economic situations change, ITAR regulations change with them. Your ITAR consultant needs to be well-versed in all things ITAR-related, which means they must maintain constant trends in the trading scene.

“We attend government conferences and constantly monitor the new proposals and rules” should make you weep with joy.

8. Is The ITAR Consultant An Optimist Or Realist?

You can ask a potential ITAR consultant if they “Can you guarantee my export license will be approved?”

If they say “yes,” keep looking.

The ITAR regulations are constantly evolving amid an ever-changing geopolitical landscape. Two years ago, no one was thinking about exports to Ukraine. Now, it’s all the rage.

Over the years, some items have moved from ITAR to EAR controls (and back to ITAR again). Does your consultant view your company’s business in light of these challenges? Or are they promising you the sun, moon, and stars to win your business?

In addition to expecting your ITAR consultant to be realistic, you should also expect your ITAR consultant to remain updated on changing ITAR regulations and laws throughout the year. While there is no “right” timeline for this, you should talk to your ITAR consultants about how they remain updated on all news and updated trends for international trade to ensure that your business is protected from the severe impact that non-compliance can have on your operation.

“It’s complicated.  There are many moving parts involved, an aggressive timeline, and several good ideas being discussed.”  Buy this person’s dinner to go with the drink.

9. Ask For Referrals- All ITAR Consultants Should Have Good References

Do you have any references I can talk to?  They should be able to send you actual client references the same day you ask for them.

An ITAR consultant firm is a technical occupation. As ITAR consultants, we depend on our brand’s name and reputation and this is built from our years of experience working with companies across several fields to ensure efficient business operations. ITAR consultants must provide a list of references and/or past clients as proof that they offer the services and professionalism you demand.

If an ITAR consultant is unable to provide this list of past/current clients or takes longer than a day to deliver it, then these points usually mean they’re scurrying to contact friends, co-workers, and long-lost uncles for a reference.

10. Do I Need An ITAR Lawyer?

The answer is, in most cases, no. A good consultant with real-world experience can help your company implement tools and processes that will get your ITAR compliance where it needs to be. In most cases, you don’t need a lawyer.

Even with something like a Voluntary Disclosure, a good ITAR consultant should be more than capable of preparing the facts and narrative, describing the events, and helping your company implement the appropriate mitigation factors to avoid future violations.

So, be careful if they try to sell you on hiring an “ITAR lawyer.” (But if you want to pay lawyer rates, it’s your money.)

11. (Bonus) Be Sure To Hash Out All ITAR Consulting Services Before You Sign!

How will you work with me? What will you provide? If you hire the guy who “explains the regulations,” be sure to buy an economy-size box of NoDoz.

There are lots of ITAR consulting services that you may need, and your ITAR consultant will talk with you about your business to help guide you through the various ITAR services and offers:

Instead, look for someone who says, “We will identify the vulnerabilities your company has and then work with you to implement solutions that mitigate your risks and help you comply. We’ll help you as much or as little as you need along the way.”

Make Sure You Get The ITAR Consultants To Benefit Your Business!

There you have it.  To any competent ITAR consultant, these questions will seem a bit ridiculous.  But they’ll help you distinguish the amateurs from the pros.

And when it comes to avoiding costly ITAR and EAR fines or penalties, that can make all the difference in the world.

Now Is The Time!
You’ve read the info and know the facts. Your business needs to be ITAR compliant, so what are you waiting for? Send a quick note to our compliance consultants about your needs and we will set up a time to learn more and see how we can help. You have nothing to lose!

How To Choose An ITAR Consultant F.A.Q.

What does ITAR mean?
The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is a set of U.S. government rules that control the import and export of various technologies, services, and articles on the U.S. Munitions List (USML).
How do I find a great ITAR consultant?
  1. Experience: Look for an ITAR consultant with at least a few years of real-world experience.
  2. Ask If Certified: This is a trick question. There is no ITAR certification.
  3. Test Their Knowledge: Does the consultant know about the latest ITAR regulation changes?
  4. Voluntary Disclosure: Has the ITAR consultant helped companies through Voluntary Disclosure?
  5. Referrals: Look over past clients the consultant has worked with.
Who needs to be ITAR compliant?
Any company that works with the U.S. military or defense-related products, along with sensitive data that could be applied to related data on the USML, must be aware of and fully compliant with ITAR.

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