A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the U.S. Department of State is not able to readily use International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) data to assess trends or risks related to the export of defense services.

The State Department monitors and enforces ITAR compliance for entities that export defense services. The agency’s process for identifying potential ITAR violations includes voluntary disclosures, disclosures that the agency requires – or “directs” – from exporters, and referrals from State’s end-use monitoring program.

Between fiscal years 2013 to 2021, that agency received 8,547 voluntary disclosures of potential ITAR violations from exporters, requested information in 505 directed disclosures, and found 85 potential violations through its end-use monitoring program.

However, when asked by GAO to provide data from its compliance database, “State could not readily provide the data,” the government watchdog agency said.

“State could not specify the number of cases related to potential ITAR violations for defense services in the Compliance Case Management System and its predecessor system,” GAO explained.

According to State Department officials, there are limitations in the agency’s internal information technology mechanism used to tag cases, and in the tools used to collect information on violations from the regulated community.

Because of these limitations, GAO explained, the State Department may not be able to readily use these data to assess trends or risks related to the export of defense services.

To remedy that deficit, GAO recommended that the State Department complete and implement procedures for recording data on potential ITAR violations. It also recommended that the State Department change to electronic data collection mechanisms to improve the accuracy and completeness of data.

The State Department told GAO it plans to develop procedures to improve data entry and quality, but didn’t provide GAO with documentation of those plans. The State Department also plans to implement an online application that would improve the accuracy of disclosure submissions, but it hasn’t established a definitive time frame for implementing the application, GAO said.

Read More About
More Topics
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.