Research Integrity and Assurance

Export controls and security

Export controls and security

Export control regulations are federal laws governing the export, transfer or sharing of certain commodities or information for reasons of national security or protections of trade. Export controls may arise for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The nature of the export has a military application or economic protection issues.
  • There are governmental concerns about the country, organization or individual receiving the information or technology.
  • The end use or the end user of the export are of concern.

Three sets of federal regulations come into play when the “licensed controlled actions” are involved in university sponsored research:

Possible exceptions applicable to university research

Most of the research and education activities taking place at Arizona State University (ASU) are excluded from export controls because ASU can assert the fundamental research exception.

  • Fundamental research exception: this exception in both EAR and ITAR pertains to basic or applied research in science and engineering performed or conducted at an accredited institution of higher learning in the U.S. where the results will be published and shared broadly in the scientific community (and under the EAR where the resulting information has been or is about to be published). Fundamental research is distinguished from research that results in information restricted for proprietary reasons, national security reasons or pursuant to specific U.S. government access and dissemination controls. If the subject of review involves a contract with publication restrictions of any type (including pre-publication approvals), for other than the sponsor’s review of its proprietary information, you may not rely on the fundamental research exception.

  • Public domain: term used for information that is published and generally accessible or available to the public through a variety of means. Both the EAR and ITAR provide that no license is needed to disclose technical information to foreign nationals inside the United States in classes or laboratories, at conferences or in publications if the information is in the public domain. The EAR and ITAR define public domain differently. The EAR requires that the information has been, is about to be, or is ordinarily published. The ITAR exception requires that the information has been published (EAR 732.2, 734.7; ITAR 120.11(8)). The fundamental research and public domain exclusions apply only to information or technical data. They do not apply to things (physical items including, for example, specified scientific equipment) or services (e.g., training foreign nationals inside or outside the United States). Other exemptions may apply to exports of equipment and services even if the fundamental or public domain exemptions do not.

For assistance in determining whether a project is subject to export controls, see the “Export Control Wizard ” or contact us.

Security clearances

ASU, as an institution, does not engage in classified work on campus. On occasion, however, access to classified materials may be necessary.

If an employee is requested by an outside agency to obtain a security clearance, the employee should contact ASU’s facility security officer for assistance. The employee may need security clearances to perform certain types of research at contractor facilities.

If an employee receives classified materials, the employee must contact the facility security officer immediately. Materials must remain intact and unopened.

In the normal course of a sponsored project, certain aspects of the work may develop in such a way that the federal government may require classification. In these situations, the principal investigator (PI) must notify the facility security officer immediately. This requirement does not include the development of processes or procedures for commercialization of patents.


For other questions concerning classified research or security clearances contact:

Debra Murphy
Facility Security Officer
Director - Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development 
(480) 965-2179 or

A word about export control from Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, Ph.D. 

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for your on-going efforts in advancing the ASU research enterprise. We continue to rise in many key areas, which enable our upward trajectory of growth and impact.  

With our success, it is important that we demonstrate the highest level of stewardship of the funds our sponsors provide to advance our research and scholarly programs. This memo serves as an important reminder of your responsibilities related to conducting research at ASU.

 RSP 103: Principal Investigator Responsibilities, summarizes and provides you with resources in the following areas:

  • proposal preparation
  • research compliance
  • award negotiation
  • post-award and project management

Knowledge Enterprise (KE) is a resource to you and facilitates the ability for you to focus on your research. It is, therefore, critical you also understand your role in supporting the management of research projects.

All compliance areas are critical, and I would like to take this opportunity to share more about your responsibility for three of those areas: Export Control Regulations, International Engagement and Collaboration and Laboratory Safety.

Export control regulations are federal laws that restrict the export of information, goods and technology and apply to:

  • transfer of specified items or information to people or entities outside the U.S.
  • disclosure of controlled information (whether in hard copy or orally) to certain foreign nationals inside or outside the U.S.
  • training or offering services involving controlled technology, equipment or information to foreign nationals
  • transactions with, or providing services to, certain foreign countries, entities or individuals that are named on the U.S. restricted party lists (this includes research travel to embargoed countries)

The regulations apply to virtually all fields of research; and they do provide several exclusions or exemptions for activities that are fundamental in nature.  In addition, there are some limitations on travel to embargoed countries, and any additional oversight for specific fields of research. To determine whether your research qualifies for an exemption, or to better understand these, you can visit Research and Integrity Assurance - Export Controls and Security, or request a consult at

International Engagements and Collaborations are encouraged as we support academic freedom and the ability to exchange ideas and collaborate with foreign partners to advance knowledge.  It is of great importance for us to maintain our productive relationship with the United States Government and the federal funding agencies that support our faculty in their research and scholarly work.  Many federal funding agencies have shared concerns regarding failure to disclose foreign relationships and activities, which could jeopardize future funding.  Faculty are to remain transparent in disclosing these collaborations to ASU and Sponsors.  For information visit International Engagement and Collaboration.

Laboratory Safety trainings, support and guidance are provided to faculty, staff, laboratory supervisors and managers, students and other ASU community members through the ASU Environmental Health and Safety department.  Faculty with research and teaching laboratories should ensure compliance with local, federal regulations and ASU policy, as well as prepare for future inspections by performing self-inspections on a regular basis.  For information visit Environmental Health and Safety - Laboratory and research for best practices, inspection checklists and training.

KE staff are available for consultation, training and workshops and they will continue to provide updated information on the policy changes that may impact your research. You may also visit Research Academy for faculty modules and additional resources. 

Thank you for the work you do in support of ASU's excellence in research and innovation.  If you have any questions about your responsibilities, please contact Heather Clark, Executive Director - Research Operations at 480-965-1427 or at

Best regards,


Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President, ASU Knowledge Enterprise
Chief Research and Innovation Officer
Advancing Research, Innovation, Strategic Partnerships, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

Director, Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC)
Foundation Chair, Computing and Informatics

T 480.965.4087 | F 480.965.8293 | E

PO Box 877205 | Fulton Center | 300 E University Dr., Suite 310 | Tempe, AZ 86287-7205 |

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