OFAC just released reports for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2015 on its licensing activities under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (“TSRA”). These reports are required by TSRA, although they are required in a significantly more timely fashion — namely, within the next calendar quarter.

So these are all anywhere from a year to six months late. No explanation is offered for their tardiness. No poor dog lounging in a pile of shredded paper is blamed. No note from a gastroenterologist is offered. Nope, OFAC just walks up, drops these on the assignment pile and saunters back to its desk in the rear of the classroom and stares at the teacher with its legendary you-say-a-word-and-I’ll-block-all-your-stuff look

It is not then, I suppose, what we in the blog business call a “stupendous shocker” that these reports reveal that processing time for TSRA applications has gotten slower and slower and slower. In the second quarter the average processing time for licenses was 71 business days; 77 business days for the third; and 88 business days for the fourth. These are all in “business days” because 71, 77 and 88 don’t sound as bad as 14 weeks, 15 and 18 weeks or 2, 2.5 and 3 months.

But actually it looks like these numbers are, shall we say, fudged a bit to make them, as bad as they are, look better than the real numbers. In the second quarter, there were 246 applications filed and only 59 applications acted on. In the third quarter, there were 191 applications filed, of which 79 were acted on. Finally in the fourth quarter, only 156 of the 185 application filed were acted on. That leaves 328 applications, or more than half of the applications filed during the relevant time period, still languishing at the bottom of a drawer somewhere at OFAC.

So claiming an average processing time in the last three quarters of 71, 77 and 88 business days is, well, baloney. It’s like saying that you won the marathon because you had the shortest time even though you ran only half the course. That explains why all of you out there with TSRA applications which disappeared into the regulatory maw several years ago and haven’t been seen since snorted your coffee out your nose when you saw 75 or so days as the average processing time claimed by OFAC.


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