IEC Electronics Is Regions 5th Largest Local Manufacturing Employer And Jobs Are Put at Risk By Conflicting Regulations on Companies That Make Circuit Boards For National DefenseSchumer Pushes Commerce and State Depts to Include Printed Circuit Boards, Like Those Manufactured at IEC, in Admins New Export Controls To Keep Sensitive Information Out Of Enemy Hands; National Security and Local Manufacturing Jobs at IEC Electronics Depend on Air-Tight Controls Schumer: We Must Kee


Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he is pushing Acting Secretary of Commerce Blank and Secretary of State Clinton to resolve the current ambiguity in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to protect hundreds of local jobs at IEC Electronics. Schumer seeks to ensure that nationally sensitive security components are only manufactured by trusted ITARcompliant manufacturers like IEC, in order to protect both national security and provide greater security to the 600 jobs at IEC Electronics.

As the  Presidential Task Force on Export Control Reform's recommendations are implemented to reform the ITAR regulations designed to keep topsecret military technology out of enemy hands, Schumer states that printed circuit boards like those manufactured at IEC must be tightly controlled to prevent unwanted access to the information designed into the boards. The boards are a critical element in virtually every piece of electronic military equipment. Failure to require the complete security of all information designed into printed circuit boards specifically designed for military use could result in a breach of U.S. national security, and pose a major threat to IEC Electronics' jobs. The current export control system is being updated and streamlined to reflect the needs of the 21 st century technology being exported as well as new national security challenges, and Schumer is strongly urging the State Department and Commerce Department to include circuit boards in their work to protect Finger Lakes region jobs and streamline ITAR and export control regulations. 

"Our most sensitive military technology should be made by trusted New York companies like IEC, not those from overseas," said Schumer. "Over the past decade, IEC Electronics has become an economic powerhouse in the Rochester Finger Lakes, employing hundreds of New Yorkers in goodpaying jobs and developing circuit board technologies that are part of the tools that keep our country safe. However, there are ambiguous federal regulations that could put those jobs and our national security at risk by allowing manufacturers overseas to produce printed circuit boards that are not up to snuff with the tough regulations and quality that the U.S. requires. I am pushing the State and Commerce Department to streamline those regulations and correct those uncertainties so that sophisticated U.S. technologies, like those made here at IEC, stay out of enemy hands, and so that no local jobs are lost abroad."

IEC Electronics is a publicly traded electronics manufacturing firm based in Newark, NY, with 600 of their 820 workers in New York. Its core business is the manufacture of printed circuit boards for use in the defense, military, aerospace, medical, industrial, and computing sectors. Ten years ago IEC Electronic's future was in doubt, but under the leadership of CEO Barry Gilbert it is now a healthy, publicaly traded company with hundreds of employees, ranked the 5 thlargest manufacturer in terms of local employment in the region. Currently, circuit boards are protected under the current export requirements for "specifically designed parts and components", but there is ambiguity as to this designation. Schumer warns that if ambiguities are not corrected and printed circuit boards are not more strictly controlled by ITAR, these boards for military applications could be manufactured overseas in lowcost regions, such as China, and jobs in the Rochester FingerLakes could be at risk.

IEC Electronics manufactures printed circuit boards for military and defenserelated purposes and has taken steps to ensure that their product are compliant with ITAR, which are export regulations enforced by the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) within the State Department that control the export of military and defenserelated materials, devices and technical information and software in order to safeguard U.S. national security. In 2009, President Obama created a multiagency "Presidential Task Force on Export Control Reform" to conduct a comprehensive review of export controls, including ITAR, in order to modernize and streamline the practices to better fit the technological and economic challenges and threats of the 21 st century. This Administration is currently reforming regulations of what is controlled, how it is controlled, and how to enforce and manage those controls, ultimately leading to a more streamlined process that removes ambiguities which have allowed circuit boards that aren't ITAR compliant to be put to military use.


Schumer is pushing for printed circuit boards be designated as an ITAR controlled item, meaning that they be placed on the U.S. Munitions List (USML) and ensuring that they are made by trusted U.S. Manufacturers like IEC. This list, along with the Commerce Control List (CCL) spell out which specific technologies or products are controlled for export either because the export of that product could jeopardize national security itself or because that product can be repurposed by an enemy to make weapons or other materials that could undermine our national security. Other items on these lists include nuclear materials, electronics, computers, sensors, propulsion systems and more. IEC has taken steps to ensure that their product won't give up sensitive information if it falls into other hands, the equivalent of passwordprotecting a laptop computer. Schumer believes that only password protected circuit boards, like those manufactured by IEC, should be used by the military.


Schumer notes that printed circuit boards must be controlled to prevent unwanted access to information that is designed into the boards. These printed circuit boards are in nearly every electronic containing item that is already on the U.S. Munitions List, and function like road maps for the electronic item it is embedded in. There are a variety negative repercussions that can arise if ambiguities in export control regulation are not corrected for printed circuit boards. Of primary concern is that without streamlining these export controls, jobs in the U.S., like those at IEC Electronics, could be lost. In addition to the potential for manufacturing jobs being sent overseas, Schumer noted serious concern that if these boards are produced by nonITAR compliant facilities, an enemy to the U.S. could gain access to the component during manufacturing and sabotage our defense system. These boards are specifically designed for U.S. military use, and serve as a kind of road map for the design and blueprint for some of our most sensitive military assets. If these boards were to fall into enemy hands, they could reverse engineer the device that it is a component of, and jeopardize U.S. national security in that way.


Joined by IEC Electronics' CEO Barry Gilbert and IEC employees, Schumer toured the facility and announced his push to get the federal government to tighten manufacturing standards to protect IEC jobs and our national security.

A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to Secretary of State Clinton and Acting Secretary of Commerce Blank appears below:

Dear Secretary Clinton and Acting Secretary Blank,


In regard to your agencies' role in the President's Task force on Export Control Reform, I write to encourage you to take incremental steps that will serve to better regulate printed circuit boards under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). 


Printed circuit boards are a critical element in every electronic containing item in almost every category of equipment on the United States Munitions List (USML). Failure to properly secure the information designed into printed circuit boards specifically designed for USML items could result in a breach of U.S. national security.


Printed circuit boards in USML items must be controlled to prevent unwanted access to the information designed into the boards. Each printed circuit board is specifically designed for each USML item. Embedded within each printed circuit board is a roadmap for the function of the electronic item for which it is specifically designed. Printed circuit boards in USML items have unique and valuable information detailing the operation of the USML item. Although printed circuit boards are theoretically protected under the current requirements for specifically designed parts and components, the ambiguity of this designation has resulted in the sourcing of printed circuit boards for ITAR regulated items to facilities that are not ITAR compliant. It is very important that our works to control printed circuit boards that are specifically designed for USML items in order to ensure U.S. national security.


We must do everything we can to ensure that unambiguous regulations specifically requiring the control of printed circuit boards for items controlled by ITAR are implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible. Better government oversight of printed circuit boards specifically designed for items controlled under ITAR will improve national security by preventing the unintended release of critical and sensitive technology.


As you work to reform ITAR and related export control policies, I urge the President's Task Force on Export Control Reform to create ITAR rules that explicitly identify as controlled ITAR items any printed circuit board that is specifically designed for ITAR controlled items. Please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. office at  2022246542 should you have any questions or need additional information.




Senator Charles E Schumer



Previous Article Next Article