After failing to publicly disclose its proposed legislative agenda, the Department of Defense will soon be required to do so.
Each year DoD generates proposals for legislative actions that it would like to see incorporated in the coming year’s national defense authorization act. These may include tweaks to existing statutes, requests for relief from reporting requirements, or something more ambitious.
It used to be the case — until two years ago — that those legislative proposals were routinely posted on the website of the DoD Office of Legislative Counsel where they could be publicly examined and evaluated. Then, without explanation, DoD stopped posting them.
Last spring, one of DoD’s more far-reaching but publicly undisclosed proposals sought to rescind a requirement to produce an unclassified version of the Future Years Defense Program budget document. (Secrecy News, 03/30/20),
That proposal was not adopted in the House-Senate conference version of the FY2021 defense authorization act (HR 6395).
But Congress did adopt a provision (sec. 1059) crafted by Reps. Katie Porter and Jackie Speier that will now require DoD to publish its legislative proposals online within 21 days of their transmission to Congress.
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Last month, the Departments of Energy and Defense denied a request from the Federation of American Scientists to disclose the current size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and the number of warheads that have been dismantled. Such information had previously been declassified and published by the executive branch each year through 2017. But for now it remains classified. See “Trump Administration Again Refuses To Disclose Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Size” by Hans Kristensen, FAS Strategic Security, December 3.