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Spotlight on Commerce: MiYong Kim, Operating Committee Chair, Bureau of Industry and Security


Guest blog post by MiYong Kim, Operating Committee Chair, Bureau of Industry and Security

I am the Chair of the Operating Committee (OC) at the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).  In that role, I chair the interagency body that resolves contentious license applications related to munitions parts and components and exports of dual-use items including commodity, technology, and software that are commercial in nature but can have military applications. The mission of BIS is to advance U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives by ensuring an effective export control and treaty compliance system and promoting continued U.S. strategic technology leadership.

The OC is made up of representatives from Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, and State and meets regularly to discuss and, to an extent, negotiate the outcome of license applications. If the interagency committee is not able to come to a consensus, I determine the outcome of the applications as chair of the group.  The OC Chair position is quite unique.  I am a member of the BIS staff; however, my decision-making authority is independent of BIS and must remain impartial. 

The thing that I like the best about my job is that I get to be an honest broker.  I am not advocating a particular outcome.  Rather, the job is to apply the regulations and interagency agreed-upon policy to the facts of a case.  It is similar to the responsibilities of an administrative law judge. While this position job does not require a law degree, I have found my legal background to be incredibly beneficial to understanding the issues discussed and decided upon by the committee.   

I grew up in Delaware.  I graduated from the University of Delaware and Catholic Law School in Washington, D.C.  A few years ago, I had the privilege of attending National Defense University (NDU) as a BIS employee, obtaining a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy. That was truly an eye-opening experience in how the U.S. military operates. My favorite class at NDU was war strategy. 

The work BIS does is really important for the well-being of both private companies and national security. Every day, my colleagues and I weigh the approval of exports against the potential risk to our national security, or the denial of certain exports that may be a potential detriment to U.S. economic well-being and growth. BIS has a great responsibility to ensure that economic impact is considered in U.S. Government decision-making in the export control area.  BIS does its best to bring out these issues during interagency discussion and are sometimes the lone voice on behalf of U.S. businesses. BIS is a constant reminder that economic security is national security.

The past couple of years have been tough for Asian Americans. This year as we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I hope people will truly listen and make efforts to be better allies to all Americans. I look forward to a day when all Americans feel we belong in our country rather than feeling like perpetual foreigners in our country.  #StopAAPIHate 

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce employees during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

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