On February 1, the U.S. Commerce Department, Bureau of Industry & Security (BIS), announced a settlement (available here) with Princeton University in connection with 37 alleged violations of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The EAR are the main regulations that govern exports of commercial goods, software and technology; BIS has principal responsibility for administering and enforcing the EAR.
The settlement is a valuable reminder of the amount of export-controlled activity that takes place at and involving universities, academic medical centers, and other research institutions. Penalties for export violations can be significant. Legal departments, compliance departments, and offices of sponsored research therefore must ensure that faculty – many of whom may be non-U.S. nationals – are aware of their responsibilities under U.S. export law.
According to BIS, the violations occurred when Princeton exported strains and recombinants of animal pathogen to non-U.S. research institutions. These items are controlled for export for chemical and biological reasons, and thus an export license is required to make the exports. Princeton did not obtain the necessary export licenses.