National Declassification Center Issues Progress Report

The National Archives National Declassification Center (NDC) has issued its fifth biannual Report on Operations of the National Declassification Center, covering the period of January 1 through June 30, 2012. The report is available is online at

Report highlights include:

  • The NDC has assessed 90% of the classified records backlog, with 55% cleared for final processing.
  • The biggest challenge facing the NDC is records that were not properly reviewed for atomic energy information by the originating agency (known as the Kyl-Lott requirement). An interagency team including representatives from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of State, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Office of the Secretary of Defense has been working collaboratively to complete these reviews.
  • The NDC has started review of special media records and has reviewed 1,341 motion pictures and 235 sound recordings.
  • Through its Remote Archives Capture, the National Archives Office of Presidential Libraries prioritized 1,364,471 pages within certain collections of the administrations of Harry Truman through Jimmy Carter, as well as the China-associated materials within the Kissinger Personal Paper Collection, for completion of referral review.

On August 3, 2012, the Washington Post published an article entitled, “Obama administration struggles to live up to its own transparency promises.” The Post concluded, “Some of these high-profile transparency measures have stalled, and by some measures the government is keeping more secrets than before.”

The Post article cited the National Declassification Center’s performance in this regard. The NDC was tasked by the Administration with reviewing and declassifying a 371 million-page backlog of records by December 2013. However, the status report shows the NDC will be hard pressed to come close to meeting that deadline. As of June 30, 2012, only 51.1 million pages have completed all processing and of that number 41.8 million pages have been released to the public.