Ann Ganzer Talks ITAR

Dr. Livingston facetiously called ITAR "everybody's favorite topic." And with that, the host of The Space Show welcomed to his popular radio program last Sunday (Feb. 12) Ann Ganzer, the Director of the Office of Defense Trade Controls Policy (DTCP) for the Department of State.

As her bio notes, Ms. Ganzer "and her staff work to resolve export-related policy issues that affect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, particularly those related to foreign development of space systems, missile and space launch vehicle programs... From 1995 until 2003, when she took up duties as the Director of DTCP, Ms. Ganzer focused on satellite and space issues, first from a nonproliferation policy perspective, and more recently dealing with Munitions List export policy matters. She has participated in the negotiation of satellite technology safeguards agreements with Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine, and remote sensing agreements with Japan and Canada."

(By the way, she's not a lawyer.)

On the Show, Ms. Ganzer discussed ITAR and the policy interests and industry concerns associated with licensing under this scheme. I missed it live but last evening popped on the headophones for the playback.

Someone asked a question I've had, "what evidence do we have that ITAR has actually intercepted or protected anything since 1999 and protected technology from getting to a rogue state" and "what can you cite as an ITAR success?" In response, regarding space-related export licenses, Ann said "no example is immediately coming to mind but I can tell you that we find cases all the time that have to be denied because of ineligible parties on the license" because "items are going to programs of concern or items are going to somebody who purports to be a legitimate end-user but is not." But she said she "could not give specifics right now."

She talked of modernization of the computerized application process via
D-Trade which will reduce the burden on export license applicants (and the government). Eventually, all basic exports applications will be filed electronically(right now only DSP-5 forms are). However, it will not reduce the amount of time needed to review the applications (which she estimated takes about 60 days).

Also in terms of inefficiencies in the process Ann cited the problem of "staffing vacancies" which her office is "desperately trying to fill" (anybody looking for a job?)

She recommended the
Cox Commission report as "good bedtime reading" which will put you to sleep, and briefly recapped the saga which led to the law returning satellites to the State Department's munitions list.

She talked of treatment of allies under Arms Export Control Act. And if you had any doubt that Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom were the top priorities that Ann's department does their "darndest to get out of the door in 48 hours," as Ann indicates, indeed they are.

She talked a bit about controlled technology in the context of sub-orbital space tourism. "We've had discussions with a couple of companies over what technologies are involved, what needs to be released to the paying customer and whether that's going to constitute an export or not but we are starting with the assumption that the technologies involved are controlled. So it's the exposure of that foreign person to that technology that would create a licensing requirement." Ann also said, "I hope that I can afford a ticket and take a ride one day because I would just love to!"

She addressed complaints over compliance with ITAR. "People are afraid of us. They think we are going to say no. In most cases we say yes." She agreed the processing times are "longer than we'd like right now."

With regard to what might be ITAR controlled on SpaceShipOne, she said "the propulsion system, some of the aviontics, some of the electronics."

Dr. Livingston asked about the politics of the process. Ann said "it's really not political at all" other than with regard to foreign relations with a particular country -- here she cited as an example the embargo of munitions exports to Indonesia in connection with activities in East Timor -- but in terms of specific export licenses, "it's largely been what it is since 1935, this is how things get done, it's not subject to the changes of partisan politics."

But she agreed that ITAR approval is based on a political agenda, saying there are some countries we don't cooperate with because of the foreign policy interests of the US. She cited the biggest prohibition against China stems from Tiananmen and is based on human rights concerns, "it has nothing to do with engineering." She added, this is not to say we don't have other concerns with China.

She offered some tips about how to put together your application with the engineers as well as the policy wonks (like Ann) in mind so that its gets through the process faster. For example, to "lead your application with a nice plain English sentence telling me what you want to do" would be helpful. (Has she ever met a lawyer?) Commercial satellites will not take a lot of review, but new and innovative technologies nesessarily will take longer.

My scratchy notes end there, but here you go,

listen to the program (MP3).

You may not like all the State Department has to say, but you gotta live with it. (For now.)

* * *

UPDATE: Over on
Space Politics this morning Jeff Foust also posted about Ann's interview. And as our favorite inside the beltway guy correctly notes, "it is still up to Congress to provide any substantive reforms to streamline the process, particularly when dealing with friendly nations."

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