Kosmas And ITAR

“Bob-1” asked in comments whether I talked to Congresswoman Kosmas yesterday about ITAR. In fact I did. She seemed aware of the issue, or at least the word. I pointed out (in light of her praise of entrepreneurship) that it was actually a much bigger problem for the smaller companies and startups, because the big ones have staff dedicated to deal with it, and can factor it into their costs for government reimbursement, but for those small companies without such in-house expertise and not on the government cost-plus dole, it represents a formidable barrier to entry, and one that the big players don’t necessarily mind. I don’t think that she had heard this argument before, and seemed interested. She told me to talk to her staffer (who was with her) next time I was in DC. Of course, I don’t know when that will be, but if anyone else out there wants to talk to the staffer, the Congresswoman seemed supportive.

3 thoughts on “Kosmas And ITAR”

  1. I suppose someone who knows about ITAR (but who isn’t in DC) could send the staffer a letter about the ITAR problem. Or they could talk to the staffer by phone, if they really knew their stuff. Is there a write-up on the problem already available on the internet? Perhaps one of the space advocacy groups has a presentation? This seems like a nice opening.

  2. By the way, I’m more aware of the ITAR problem from its impact on unmanned science missions. When I hear ITAR, I always think of the way Emily Lakdawalla blogged about an Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) meeting on the Planetary Society’s blog (and I imagine this is the kind of story the congresswoman and her staff might also appreciate, if it could be told succinctly):

    “Next up was Karla Clark from JPL, presenting the results of the latest study performed by JPL of a possible Europa mission called Europa Explorer. Before she gave the presentation, there was a funny but awkward episode. Curt Niebur, who is the NASA HQ representative to (from?) OPAG, had to ask all foreign nationals without Green Cards to exit the room, because Clark’s PowerPoint presentation had not been vetted by the office at JPL whose responsibility it is to make sure that none of the materials used in public presentations run afoul of ITAR, that International Trade in Arms Regulations law that has been so stifling to international cooperation. About a dozen people ruefully left the room including the two ESA representatives, Peter Falkner and Gerhard Schwehm, who were there seeking ESA-NASA cooperation on a future Europa mission! ITAR frequently has very silly and annoying implications for getting work done in space exploration. The silliest aspect of the whole thing was that just half an hour earlier I’d been asked by Curt to switch my badge for one that said “PRESS PRESS PRESS PRESS” on it in great big red capital letters on a yellow background — it might equally have said “DANGER DANGER DANGER” — yet it was okay for me to stay in the room! I feel sorry for the people who have to enforce these silly rules. I suppose that by reporting on Karla Clark’s presentation I could run afoul of ITAR. But there didn’t seem to be anything shocking in her presentation; and my experience from working with the rovers and ITAR issues leads me to believe that the pictures are generally the things that are considered more sensitive than the words, so hopefully I will not get into any trouble by summarizing Clark’s talk. ”

    From “www.planetary.org/blog/article/00000567/”

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