Export Controls at Academic Medical Institutions: Thoughts from the Inside

November 2014

Meet J. Patrick Hanley , JD

Export Controls Officer MD Anderson Cancer Center The University of Texas

Traliance: What is the greatest challenge academic institutions face today in addressing export controls compliance?

Patrick: The regulations and laws that comprise the current U.S. export control scheme were developed with industry, not academia, in mind. I would never dare say compliance for industry is “easy” – but classifying and controlling a product pipeline is easier than chasing down dozens or hundreds of scientists, each pursuing their own unique cutting-edge research. The volume, diversity, and decentralized nature of academia presents unique challenges.

Traliance: You have held your role for a number of years and have been instrumental in fully establishing a comprehensive export controls compliance program at MD Anderson. What are the top suggestions you have for other research administrators who are just starting to tackle export controls?

Patrick: We all work under immense pressure to produce great compliance solutions that cost nothing. Get a good sense of the institutional resources already at your disposal to reduce your need for additional resources. Much of the information needed to do your job is likely already captured elsewhere.

Traliance: Qualified Research Administrators are highly sought after in the current job market. What qualities, skills, or subject matter expertise can help individuals to standout?

Patrick: Research Administration requires an interesting combination of regulatory interpretation and project management. It also requires that you become at least conversationally proficient in science. Above all, good Research Administrators have the ability to empathize with researchers who must navigate opaque bureaucratic systems using the precious free time that they would rather be devoting to their research.

Traliance: Effective stakeholder engagement can be difficult to achieve. What strategies have worked for you in engaging faculty and other principle investigators or researchers?

Patrick: Stakeholders respond best to offers of assistance. Demonstrate how compliance furthers research goals or how noncompliance might derail those same goals. Then, get to know your stakeholder’s support network. Most researchers rely on administrative support and lab managers who can be instrumental in helping you design programs that reflect the needs of your stakeholders.

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Traliance provides export controls consulting services for research universities and technology companies. Our focus is on the implementation of practical solutions that drive robust export controls compliance. Our services are based on a unique blend of knowledge in U.S. export controls regulations, scientific research, and business process improvement methodologies. We bring valuable experience from working with universities, non-profits, and companies of all size that span a range of industries and sectors (including satellites, drones, aerospace, advanced materials, chemicals, underwater, medical, and SaaS.)