President Asks for Agency Views on Declassification

01.31.08 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

President Bush this week ordered executive branch agency heads to respond to dozens of recommendations that were issued earlier this month by the Public Interest Declassification Board, an official advisory group, regarding the declassification of historical records.

The Board’s report, “Improving Declassification” (pdf), presented 49 recommendations to increase the utility and productivity of declassification, such as establishment of a National Declassification Center, creation of a public database of declassified documents, expedited declassification of presidential records including the President’s Daily Brief, and new procedures for declassification of closed congressional hearing records and other documents.

“Please submit in writing no later than April 15, 2008… your views on each of the recommendations, including with respect to each recommendation your view of whether and to what extent it should be implemented,” President Bush told the agency heads on January 29.

The Board’s report hardly made a ripple when it was released earlier this month. And since it is purely advisory, it could easily have been ignored.

But the President’s response increases the likelihood that the Board’s recommendations will now receive serious consideration, inside and outside of the executive branch.