Export Controls: Post-Shipment Verification Provides Limited Assurance That Dual-Use Items Are Being Properly Used: GAO-04-357

January 2004
GAO Reports;1/12/2004, p1
Government Document
The United States controls certain dual-use technologies that could be used to enhance the military capabilities of countries of concern. The Department of Commerce (Commerce) conducts post-shipment verification (PSV) checks to ensure that these technologies arrive at their intended destination and are used for the purposes stated in the export license. GAO was asked to (1) assess the number of dual-use export licenses approved and subject to postshipment verification and (2) evaluate how the PSV process ensures that sensitive exports are used as intended. The Department of Commerce approved 26,340 licenses for the export of dual-use items during fiscal years 2000 to 2002. Twenty-eight percent of these licenses involved dual-use exports to countries of concern such as China, India, and Russia. However, Commerce conducted PVC checks on few of these licenses. We found that, during fiscal years 2000 to 2002, Commerce completed PSV checks on 428, or about 6 percent, of the dual-use licenses it approved for countries of concern. Commerce and other departments attached conditions to nearly all (99 percent) of the licenses for countries of concern to alleviate concerns about potential diversion or misuse. We identified three key weaknesses in the PSV process that reduce the effectiveness of this important activity. First, PSVs do not confirm compliance with license conditions because U.S. officials frequently do not check license conditions, they often lack the technical training to assess compliance, and end users may not be aware of the license conditions by which they are to abide. Second, some countries of concern, most notably China, limit the U.S. government's access to facilities where dual-use items are shipped, making it difficult to conduct a PSV. Third, PSV results have only a limited impact on future licensing decisions. Companies receiving an unfavorable PSV may receive greater scrutiny in future license applications, but they can still receive an export license. In addition, according to Commerce officials, past PSV results play only a minor role in future Enforcement actions.


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