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Your Recommendations for Classification Policy

Today, the Public Interest Declassification Board held a public meeting to hear your recommendations for revisions of Executive Order 12958, as amended.  This was a very productive meeting framed by the conversations occurring here on this Forum.  We thank those of you who participated today at the meeting, and encourage you to continue your participation on the blog.  We will accept your comments on all four topics until July 19, 2009. 
The public meeting today concentrated particularly on issues of classification, including ways to address over-classification.  On the Declassification Policy Forum we have seen over 20 thoughtful comments on classification policy.  Here are the few of your recommendations:   
  • There should be an independent review of agency classification guides currently in use with the goal of reducing classification controls.  These reviews should be made independent of original classifiers and eliminate obsolete classification categories.
  • Once documents are declassified, they should not be eligible for reclassification except under extreme circumstances.
  • There should be an initiative that would reward agency members for limiting the number of classifications made. 
  • If the source document is declassified, any dependent information should likewise be declassified.
  • Because local law enforcement are able to provide for the public safety when they have access to information about potential threats, classification should be limited to allow for the sharing of information.   
  • The process of challenging the classification assigned to a document should be encouraged and streamlined.
  • Executive agencies should be held more accountable for administering classification systems.  At present there is no oversight authority that can meaningfully compel agencies to abide by classification standards. 
  • Agency heads should have the latitude to authorize experimental projects and initiatives that could make security policy more efficient or more transparent.
  • Classification levels pertaining to the seriousness of the threat to national security should be made more precise.
  • Under the guidance of the Information Security Oversight Office, agency inspector generals should receive the authority to audit classification and declassification decisions, and the results of these audits should be made public.
  • Whenever possible, classifiers should use the lowest appropriate classification level and duration.
  • Confusion over the distinction between intelligence sources, methods, and activities invariably leads to the over classification of information.  The scope of these terms should be more clearly defined.
Public Interest Declassification Board Support Staff