Secrecy News

Policy on Controlled Unclassified Info Languishes

Three and a half years have passed since President Bush called for the establishment of a standardized government-wide format for the handling of “controlled unclassified information” (CUI) that would replace the dozens of different, incompatible controls on what had been known as “Sensitive But Unclassified” (SBU) information.  More than a year has passed since President Bush declared that the new CUI framework was established.

But in practice, little has changed because the implementing policies and procedures have not yet been devised.  An initial draft for comment is expected sometime this summer.  Meanwhile, agencies continue to follow their previous, often problematic approaches.

“Department of Defense components are not to use any of the new CUI markings until the national level interagency policy has been issued, the DoD-level implementation guidance has been published, and the DoD CUI Transition Plan is completed,” wrote Under Secretary of Defense James R. Clapper, Jr. in an internal memorandum (pdf) last month.  “Until such time, existing policy guidance pertaining to information such as For Official Use Only (FOUO), SBU, and DoD Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information… must be strictly adhered to,” Gen. Clapper wrote.

The National Archives has requested $1.9 million for the Controlled Unclassified Information Office in FY 2010.  “The office will establish standards and guidance for this type of information, and monitor department and agency compliance.”

Aside from increasing uniformity of controls on information, limits on the authorized use of such controls and other policy provisions remain to be defined.