The Department of Energy (DOE) has compiled into a Sensitive Subjects List (SSL) the various important technical areas covered by the Department of Commerce Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Regulations, the Department of Energy Regulations (10 CFR Part 810), and the Department of State International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The SSL is an internal DOE document that is only used within the DOE-complex. It does not replace or supersede any of the source regulations from which it was derived. In fact, the various source regulations, which form part of Federal law, may change frequently, while the SSL has remained unchanged since 2001.
The SSL identifies subjects related to the development of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, and biological) and their delivery systems (including missiles), conventional weapons, and other technologies deemed significant to the national security of the United States. The list is organized according to the following topics. See Sensitive Subjects List for the full text of DOE guidelines.
Part I: Topics Related to Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Fuel Cycle
Part II: Topics related to Rockets, Missiles, and Delivery Systems
Part III: Topics Related to Conventional Arms and Other Defense-Related Technologies
Part IV: Topics related to Chemical and Biological Weapons
Part V: Topics Related to Advanced Scientific Computers and Software
Part VI: Topics Related to Business Sensitive (Proprietary) Information
Part VII: Information and Assistance
Fundamental Research Exception
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) operates almost entirely within the “fundamental research exception" to U.S. export control and munitions laws. In short, the fundamental research exception is based upon completely unfettered freedom of publication. This means that, aside from a short delay for procuring a patent (likely needed within a year), there can be no restriction of publication. When LBNL operations are properly conducted within the fundamental research exception, the issues posed by the EAR and ITAR are very few.
Be aware, though, that there are subjects that fall outside the fundamental research exception, such as computer encryption technology. Thus, when beginning research in a new topical area, it is beneficial to review the area with the LBNL Export Control Officer for recent changes in the law, and for unforeseen export control or munitions control issues.
Projects Having Publication Restrictions at LBNL
Within the University of California system, generally there can be no restriction on publication whatsoever for policy reasons. However, LBNL may obtain funding with publication restrictions where the Laboratory Director has expressly provided written authorization of the arrangement. These projects do not enjoy the protective harbor of the fundamental research exception so specific security plans, export control reviews, export control licenses for personnel exposed to the technology, and continual close monitoring may be required after a thorough review by the LBNL Export Control Officer. Mistakes in the dissemination of information in publication-restricted projects may lead to deemed export violations, which may result in personal jail time and substantial personal fines. In fact, LBNL would be required to immediately report any such deemed export violation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement, among others.
- Deemed Exports: Any transfer of goods, technology or software/codes to a foreign national, regardless of where the transfer occurs, is "deemed" by the U.S. government to be an export to the foreign country itself. For more information, see the Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. Department of Commerce or the LBNL Patent Office.
- Any foreign national is subject to the "deemed export" rule except: 1) Permanent residents (green card holders), 2) Naturalized U.S. citizens, or 3) "Protected persons," i.e., political refugees and political asylum holders.
Anyone working on a publication-restricted project should be aware of the large number of constraints on releasing information. All such information released should have the explicit written approval of the LBNL Export Control Officer. They should also be cautious about providing gratuitous information and careful to guard against premature release of such potentially export controlled information as rapid advances or breakthroughs in technology. Violation of the precepts means not working within LBNL policies and may have serious repercussions.
Sensitive Subjects Working Group (SSWG)
The Sensitive Subjects Working Group is comprised of Subject Matter Experts (SME) in the following areas. After reviewing the Sensitive Subjects List, if you think your project or research may involve sensitive information or activities, contact the Foreign Visits and Assignments Office for referral to the appropriate SME for a consultation.
- Select agents
Category IV Special Nuclear Material (SNM)
Card access system
Computer Intrusion Detection Systems
High Performance Computing (HPC)
Export controlled information and intellectual property
Export controlled material
Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)
- Attorney/client privilege documents