Secrecy News

US Air Force Updates Policy on Special Access Programs

The US Air Force last month issued updated policy guidance on its “special access programs” (SAPs). Those are classified programs of exceptional sensitivity requiring safeguards and access restrictions beyond those of other categories of classified information.

See Air Force Policy Directive 16-7Special Access Programs, 21 November 2017.

The new Air Force policy makes provisions for internal oversight of its SAPs, as well as limited congressional access to SAP information under some circumstances.

Notably, however, the new Air Force directive does not acknowledge the authority of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) to review and oversee its SAPs.

That’s an error, said ISOO director Mark Bradley.

The executive order on national security classification (EO 13526, sect. 4.3) explicitly says that “the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office shall be afforded access to these [special access] programs.”

Mr. Bradley said that ISOO would communicate the point effectively to the Air Force.

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