The House and Senate this week approved legislation that will require the Inspector General of each executive branch agency that classifies information to evaluate the agency’s classification program and to assess its implementation of classification policies and procedures. The new measure should help to bolster the oversight of the national security classification system, which is currently the sole responsibility of the Information Security Oversight Office.
The provision was included in the “Reducing Over-classification Act” (HR 553), which was originally introduced by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) and amended by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and which generally seeks to promote improved information sharing.
Despite its bold title, the legislation does not establish any new criteria for assuring appropriate classification nor does it even define the term overclassification. Yet by enlisting the Inspectors General to oversee agency compliance with current classification policies, the bill could make a significant contribution to addressing the problem of wrongful or unnecessary secrecy.
In particular, the IGs may be expected to monitor agency implementation of the Fundamental Classification Guidance Review, the Obama Administration initiative that is supposed to eliminate obsolete classification requirements in each agency (as required by executive order 13526, section 1.9). To date, there is no available evidence that agencies have made any progress in performing the Reviews, which must be completed by June 2012.
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The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]
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