On Oct. 17, 2014 the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released a document titled Guidance Related to the Provision of Humanitarian Assistance by Not for Profit Non-Governmental Organizations.
The two-page document provides some clarification of the status quo without making substantive changes called for by the nonprofit sector or committing to specific actions OFAC may take to address systemic problems with its licensing system. It does not address the problems the State Department's involvement in licensing creates, including delays and politicization of humanitarian decisions.
In addition, the document clearly states that it is for informational purposes only and does not have the force of law. It does not address the needs of development, peacebuilding, human rights or other types of nonprofit programs abroad.
While clarifications from OFAC are welcome, the overall thrust of the document is to restate existing policies and provide assurances that have no legal force. The most positive view is that it is a good beginning for a dialog between OFAC, the State Department and the nonprofit sector on the next phase of improvements needed.
For background information see U.S. Civil Society Submission to the UN Human Rights Commission, Sept. 15, 2014, describing human rights problems with the licensing system.