Transforming Classification 2012 Report to the President

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 6, 2012

“As requested by the President, the Public Interest Declassification Board (the Board) researched and studied the security classification system in cooperation with the National Security Advisor to design a fundamental transformation of the security classification system. The Board sought to understand how classified records of every level of sensitivity are managed and how different users influence classification and declassification decisions at the front-end and the back-end of the system. The Board met extensively with stakeholders inside and outside of government during its study: senior government officials, Executive departments and agencies (agencies), distinguished civil servants, the Congress, leading technologists, experts from public interest, civil society and transparency groups, historians, classifiers, declassifiers, and archival researchers. Its research led the Board to understand the challenges the system presents to all users and to solicit suggestions and ideas for its transformation. The findings of the Board are conclusive; present practices for classification and declassification of national security information are outmoded, unsustainable and keep too much information from the public. The prevalence of electronic records has made the current paper-based system of classification and declassification unworkable. Use of advanced information technology is crucial to achieving increases in efficiency and better balancing information security with government openness. However, there is little evidence that Executive departments and agencies (agencies) are employing or developing the technologies needed to meet these objectives.”

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