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 the university are excluded from export controls because UNC Asheville 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 Decision Tool” (under construction) or contact us.

Security clearances

UNC Asheville, 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 UNC Asheville’s Chief Research 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 Chief Research 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 Chief Research 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 the Export Control Officer.