Department of Commerce Announces Academic Outreach Initiative

The Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement recently announced the Academic Research Initiative, which aims to help U.S. universities protect themselves against the theft of sensitive research products by foreign agents. During a speech at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew Axelrod addressed the national security risk that foreign adversaries pose to U.S. academic research institutions. Following his remarks at the NACUA conference, a memorandum to Department of Commerce employees was released that outlined the four major elements of the Academic Research Initiative.

Below are the four major elements:

  • The Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement will identify and strategically prioritize academic research institutions whose work gives them an elevated risk profile. These are institutions that have ties to foreign universities that are on the Entity List; are involved in research and development for the U.S. Department of Defense; or are conducting research in sensitive technologies subject to Export Administration Regulations.
  • The Office of Export Enforcement will offer and assign outreach agents to academic research institutions to help with the prevention of unauthorized exports.
  • Export Enforcement recognizes that U.S. academic research institutions often benefit from strong working relationships and partnerships with foreign university partners. When appropriate, outreach agencies will engage and communicate known national security risks associated with foreign university partners.
  • Outreach agents will offer trainings to academic research institutions on how export controls apply in academic settings and the national security threat facing institutions.

For more information on this initiative, please read the Inside Higher Ed article, “U.S. Plans to Help Universities Protect Security of Research.”