PIDB Seeks Input On “Transforming The Federal Declassification System”

The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) is seeking input on its draft proposals for transforming the federal classification system. The Board has posted their ideas for transforming the system on their blog ( and is urging stakeholders to submit comments.

The PIDB advises the President and other executive branch officials on the declassification of historical federal records related to national security.

The deadline for submitting draft proposals is May 13, 2011. All submissions be between 800 and 1,200 words and should be provided via email to The Board will review the submissions, group them by topic, and post them for public comment on May 18. Submissions and the Board’s prior white papers will be discussed in a public forum on May 26, 2011 at the National Archives Building.

The PIDB’s proposals include:

2 thoughts on “PIDB Seeks Input On “Transforming The Federal Declassification System”

  1. Thank you for posting this. We believe that historians have a critical role and interest in this process. First, there are serious implications for historians and for history as we enter the digital age. As the use and volume of electronic records increases, historians are going to have greater challenges in gaining access in the first instance and then actually finding relevant information in the second instance. The Board is advocating for a complrehensive metadata strategy as well as a new process on how to review electronic records for declassification. Second, the Board is advocating significant changes in the concept of “agency ownership” of historical records. Curently, this process has caused major delays in the declassification of paper records – a process that is going to be further strained as electronic records become the norm. Third, some portions of our classified history remain off-limits to the public and should be considered for declassification. Critical historical Congressional records remain outside the scope of the National Declassification Center and agency review. Much of our nuclear history remains needlessly locked in vaults even though units have disbanded, storage sites abandoned, and war plans superceded. finally, within Government, the Board advocates for a new role for historians to play – to ensure that truly important records are identifed, preserved, and managed. We hope that these proposals prove of interest to the historian community and that individuals concerned about these matters will review our proposals and comment on them. We will also host a public meeting at the main National Archives building on May 26 at 10am to hear additional comment. Thank you for your consideration.

  2. These Public Interest Declassification Board proposals are generally constructive, especially those designed to end agency “ownership” of historical records and to include Congressional records in declassification reviews. In addition, I’d like to suggest that all redactions of information in government records should be followed by substitute language so that researchers can know what type of information was redacted. For example, redacting the name of a C.I.A. operative could be followed by language stating that the redacted information “identifies a C.I.A. operative.” We found this substitute language a useful component of the legislation that created the JFK Assassination Records Review Board of which I was a member. Substitute language preserves appropriate classified information while helping researchers understand the nature of the classified information.

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