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Over at OSTP: Envisioning a National Declassification Center

The Declassification Policy Forum is an unprecedented opportunity for the public to provide input on recommendations for revisions to classification and declassification policy. Since Thursday, the Forum has received your recommendations for the possible creation of a National Declassification Center. We thank you for your comments and encourage you to continue to participating in the discussions on Declassification Policy and a National Declassification Center even as we start a discussion about Classification Policy tomorrow. 
Despite the holiday weekend, the Forum received 15 detailed comments about possible aspects that should be included in the creation of a National Declassification Center (NDC). Here are a few of your recommendations:
  • A National Declassification Center could function as a forum for reviewing and updating agency declassification guides. An NDC interagency executive committee could review and certify all declassification guides with the aim of reducing the scope of continued classification to the necessary minimum. 
  • An NDC should focus on the classification, safeguarding, and declassification of data residing in information systems. 
  • An NDC should have an information technology futures group chartered to evaluate information systems and develop solutions as technologies evolve. 
  • An NDC should have a business model that removes the requirement for any agency with equity in a record to have the opportunity to review that record. 
  • Agencies should be required to transfer their permanently valuable records to the National Archives. Electronic records should be transferred sooner for preservation.  
  • Agencies should be required to sufficiently staff an NDC with reviewers able to review their own records as well as their information in other agency records.    
  • As soon as records are declassified, their indices should be made available to the public in electronic format on the Internet.    
  • A drop dead date of no longer than 40 years would limit the buildup of declassification backlogs and would permit an NDC to focus its efforts on more recent and more challenging records collections. 
  • Presidential papers should not be sequestered in an NDC because this would hinder archivists in presidential libraries from developing knowledge of the full collection.
  • An NDC should adopt a "once and done" process to declassification. A box should be reviewed for declassification once.
  • An NDC should include a prioritization scheme that would allow a line by line review of the most important historical records so they can be redacted. 
  • There should be bulk declassification of certain record series. The time has come to move beyond page-by-page review of classified records.
To comment on this post, visit the OSTP blog.
Public Interest Declassification Board Support Staff