Regulatory intelligence for US exporters

BIS Failing to Cooperate With Export Control Oversight, Lawmaker Says

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said the Commerce Department hasn’t yet provided “acceptable responses” to oversight questions about the agency’s technology export controls. In a letter sent last week to Commerce, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said the House committee may “use the authorities available to it to enforce these requests as necessary, including through compulsory process.”

McCaul said the Bureau of Industry and Security “has failed to uphold its legal obligation to produce requested documents and information pursuant to the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.” The lawmaker has sent several letters to the agency, including one in November requesting BIS licensing data and its communications with chip companies, along with a broad swath of related information, to make sure the agency is implementing its new China controls “fairly across all market players” (see 2211020027).

In response to one of McCaul’s letters from 2020 that requested BIS licensing information, BIS “only produced one small tranche of documents to date in May 2021 -- more than six months after the initial request -- and provided nothing further since then,” McCaul wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Export Compliance Daily. Bloomberg first reported on the letter.

The lawmaker has said he plans to initiate a formal review of the agency and its export control procedures (see 2210030068). “BIS’s dereliction in providing basic transparency and accountability is a contributing factor for my forthcoming 90-day review,” the letter said. “A principal objective for this review is to determine if the Department of Commerce should continue to lead implementation of the export control system.”

A Commerce spokesperson said McCaul and Secretary Gina Raimondo met Jan. 19, but the person didn’t say what was discussed. “Implementing robust export controls to protect our national security is a bipartisan priority, and we look forward to working with the Committee to ensure it has the information it needs, consistent with our legal responsibilities,” the spokesperson said. “We look forward to our continuing dialogue with Congress on these important issues.”