National Declassification Center Issues Progress Report

The National Archives National Declassification Center (NDC) has issued its fourth biannual Report on Operations of the National Declassification Center, covering the period of July 1, 2011 – December 31, 2011. The report is online at:

Since its inception in January, 2010, through new processes, inter-agency cooperation, and data gathering analysis, the NDC has assessed 70% of the classified records backlog, and facilitated prioritized review and release for two special records collections. All processing has been fully completed for 26.6 million pages; 22.7 million of these pages have been made available to the public. This is an 85% release rate, with 15% requiring continued exemption for security sensitivity.

Although 275 million pages have been assessed for quality assurance, only 120.6 million pages have successfully completed the quality assurance process. The primary reason for records not successfully passing the assessment is the lack of documented review for nuclear weapons information as required by a law commonly referred to as “Kyl-Lott,” or a certification that the collection is “highly unlikely” to contain nuclear weapons information.

Report highlights:

In the last six months, the NDC:

  • Hosted a public forum in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. A panel of representatives from several NDC-participating agencies — Department of Energy, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State, and Joint Chiefs of Staff — spoke about their agencies’ efforts and inter-agency collaboration, and took questions from the public.
  • Completed the declassification review, processing, and release of extensive Cold War-related materials in time for the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall. A well-attended public seminar marking this event was held October 27, 2011, in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building.
  • Prioritized the processing and declassification of more than one million classified pages from the Truman through Carter Administrations in coordination with the National Archives Presidential Libraries. Another priority is the China-related materials in the Kissinger Personal Paper Collection. As of December 31, 2011, equity-holding agencies had completed review on 982,220 of those pages, and over half of those materials reviewed were delivered to those libraries.
  • In an effort to grant earlier public access to important records collections, the NDC established a process to work with agencies on special reviews of record series that were heavily exempted in the past. The NDC has improved the end-to-end tracking for all review, processing, and declassification operations. The tracking system identifies chokepoints in declassification processes, creates accurate production statistics, and streamlines data capture efforts.

The NDC was established by Executive Order 13526, “Classified National Security Information,” under the direction of the Archivist of the United States, to coordinate the timely and appropriate processing of referrals of 25-year old and older classified records of permanent historical value. The December 29, 2009, Presidential Memorandum accompanying Executive Order 13526 specified a December 31, 2013, deadline for making available to the public the declassified records within the approximately 400 million pages currently back logged (that is, currently accessioned but not yet fully processed for release to the public) at the National Archives and under NDC purview.

Updated information on new records releases and other NDC initiatives is online at the NDC web site [http:.//]. Public input, questions and comments are welcome, and can be sent to or the NDC Blog []. Information on upcoming forums and NDC initiatives [].