The U.S. government controls the export of sensitive defense and dual-use items (having both military and commercial use). The five agencies primarily responsible for export control enforcement — the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security (DHS), Justice, State and the Treasury — conduct inspections and investigations, and can levy punitive actions against violators.
A challenging aspect of export control enforcement is the detection of illicit transshipments — the transfer of items from place of origin through an intermediary country to an unauthorized destination, such as Iran. In 2010, the President announced reforms to the U.S. export control system to address weaknesses found by the GAO and others.
GAO was asked to address how the export control enforcement agencies allocate resources, as well as the challenges they face and the potential impact of export control reform on enforcement activities.