License process criticized

The State Department should revamp its process for reviewing export licenses before building a new e-license process system, according to a General Accounting Office report.

The GAO investigation, "Export Controls: Re-engineering Business Processes Can Improve Efficiency of State Department License Reviews," was conducted in response to defense industry concerns that the State Department's extended reviews for defense articles and services is resulting in lost sales. GAO found the department loses or delays thousands of applications a year.

The average processing time for applications in 2000 was 23 days when the applications remained in-house, and 91 days when they required review by external agencies or departmental offices outside Defense Trade Controls, the office in charge of processing the requests, the report said.

The State Department completed more than 46,000 license application reviews in fiscal 2000. The department authorizes more than $20 billion in commercial defense trade each year, according to the State Department Web site

The State Department argued that export licensing reviews can be lengthy because of the intensive process of evaluating the impact the commercial offerings will have on foreign policy and national security.

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