On August 30, the National Archives Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) released the first Executive branch-wide Fundamental Classification Guidance Review covering 25 Federal agencies with significant classification programs. Agency summaries are available online [www.archives.gov/isoo/fcgr].
The review serves as a guide and benchmark for Federal agencies to ensure proper classification of information vital to national security, while expediting declassification by avoiding over-classification and unnecessary withholding of records. Accurate and current classification guides also ensure standardized classification within and across Federal agencies. Of the 3,103 classification guides reviewed, 869 were either cancelled or consolidated; numerous projects, programs, or categories were eliminated, revised, consolidated, or condensed.
Overall, the review shows that Federal agencies are streamlining classification guidance and more clearly identifying categories of what can be released and what needs to remain classified.
Review highlights include:
- The Department of Energy overhauled its classification guidance by cancelling unnecessary guides, deleting redundancy, reducing the number of subjects exempted from automatic declassification, and replacing erratic declassification events with fixed declassification dates.
- The National Reconnaissance Office created an Integrated Classification Guide to standardize classification requirements agency-wide and create improved, efficient, and timely declassification guidelines and processes.
- The Environmental Protection Agency developed its first agency classification guide.
- The Department of the Navy implemented a Security Classification Guide Management System to provide horizontal comparison across all their many classification guides, identify classification differences, and establish a classification baseline.
- The Department of Justice created five classification guides to cover classified information in the Criminal and National Security Divisions.
The Fundamental Classification Guidance Review program was created by President Obama on December 29, 2009, under Executive Order 13526. All Federal agencies with significant classification programs had until July 2012 to review their classification guidance, and then provide their reports to the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office. The next review is scheduled for 2017.
The Information Security Oversight Office is responsible to the President for policy and oversight of the government-wide security classification system under Executive Order 13526 and the National Industrial Security Program under Executive Order 12829, as amended. ISOO serves as Executive Agent for the Controlled Unclassified Information program under Executive Order 13556. ISOO has been part of the National Archives and Records Administration since 1995. See more information about the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) at [www.archives.gov/isoo/].