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Secretary of Energy Advisory Board
Washington, DC 20585
May 21, 1996
Dear Department of Energy Stakeholder:

I am pleased to announce that formation of the Department of Energy Openness Advisory Panel has been completed. The thirteen members were chosen from an outstanding list of candidates, including those nominated in response to the February 7, 1996 letter from A. Bryan Siebert, Director, Office of Declassification, requesting nominations from stakeholders.

Dr. Richard Meserve, a partner in the Washington law firm of Covington and Burling, will chair the Openness Advisory Panel. Dr. Meserve previously served with distinction as Chair of the National Academy of Sciences Review of DOE Classification Policy and Practice. A list of all the members of the Openness Advisory Panel is enclosed.

The Terms of Reference for the Openness Advisory Panel charge the Panel to rigorously scrutinize the Department's current policies and procedures relating to Classification, Declassification and Openness, and to vigorously advocate improvements. A copy of the Terms of Reference is also enclosed for your information.

I very much appreciate your interest in the Openness Advisory Panel and in the Department's Openness Initiative and encourage you to maintain a continuing dialog with the Panel, the Office of Declassification, and the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. Your observations, perspectives and recommendations are important and will be listened to.

Please address any written comments or questions you may have to me at the following address:

U.S. Department of Energy
Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, AB-1
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20585-0108

You may also provide comments or questions to Mr. Siebert at (301)903-3521, Fax: (301)903-1230; or to my Deputy, Dick Fredlund at (202)586-9083, Fax: (202)586-6279.


David W. Cheney
Acting Executive Director


Openness Advisory Panel

Dr. Richard A. Meserve (Chairman)
Covington and Burling
Washington, DC

Mr. David H. Albright
Institute for Science and International Security
Washington, DC

Ms. Cheryl Alexander
Alexander Companies
Wayzata, Minnesota

Mr. Ralph Cavanagh
Senior Attorney
Natural Resources Defense Council
San Francisco, California

Dr. Thomas A. Cotton
Vice President
JK Research Associates, Inc.
Vienna, Virginia

Dr. Douglas M. Eardley
Institute for Theoretical Physics
University of California
Santa Barbara, California

Dr. E.G. Mahler
E.G. Mahler & Associates, Inc.
Wilmington, Delaware

Dr. Page P. Miller
National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History
Washington, DC

Dr. Al Narath
Energy and Environment Sector
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Dr. Allen L. Sessoms
Queens College
The City University of New York
Flushing, New York

Mr. Troy E. Wade II
Wade Associates, Inc.
Las Vegas, Nevada

Ms. Ellyn R. Weiss
Foley, Hoag and Eliot
Washington, DC

Dr. Eric H. Willis
DynMeridian Corporation
Alexandria, Virginia

Department of Energy Openness Advisory Panel

Terms of Reference


The purpose of the Openness Advisory Panel (Panel) is to provide advice to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) regarding the current status and strategic direction for the Department's classification and declassification policies and programs, as well as other aspects of the Department's ongoing Openness Initiative. The Panel's work will help institutionalize the Department's Openness Initiative.

The Panel's principal goal is to enhance the credibility of the Department's classification, declassification and openness programs through rigorous, independent scrutiny of current policies and vigorous advocacy for improvements. The Panel also will bring sharpened focus to both the strength and weaknesses of current classification, declassification and openness policies and ensuring speedy resolution of major issues and problems.

Finally, the Panel will facilitate application of best business practices in the management of the Department's classification, declassification and openness programs, so as to maximize both program effectiveness and public accountability, and will develop recommendations for the Secretary regarding changes in the size, missions, scope, direction and emphasis of these programs. In carrying out these responsibilities, the Panel will provide:

  • An independent evaluation of all DOE policies and procedures relating to enhancing public trust and confidence in the Department and its programs, with special emphasis on classification, declassification and openness policies;

  • Advice and recommendations to the SEAB on major classification, declassification and other openness issues, especially those of particular interest to the public;

  • A forum, at public meetings of the SEAB, in which the Department's stakeholders may discuss the Department's policies and programs with Board members and senior DOE officials; and

  • A vehicle for establishing task forces for specific aspects of the Openness Initiative, as recommended by the Board or otherwise deemed necessary by the Secretary.

    The Panel responds to current Administration policy and Department of Energy leadership which recognize that government openness fosters confidence among the public and other stakeholders by assuring the free flow of information between government bodies and the public. By establishing readily understandable policies and procedures which facilitate information availability, stakeholders are assured accessibility to information without compromising national security. By debating such policies in public to the maximum extent practicable, stakeholders can verify and validate the Department's success in affording appropriate public access to its policies and programs.

    The primary focus of the Panel will be on those classification, declassification and related policy issues relating to nuclear weapons, nuclear materials, and other issues of particular interest to DOE stakeholders, including those issues potentially relating to public health and safety and/or environmental quality.


    The Panel will be comprised of approximately twelve (12) members appointed by the SEAB Chair from among the members of the SEAB and other appropriate experts and members of the public.

    Panel members will be appointed for staggered terms to provide continuity through changes of Presidential administrations. The Panel will be chaired by a member selected by the SEAB Chair and will constitute a standing panel of the SEAB.

    Roles and Responsibilities

    The Panel will focus on issues of primary interest to the public and on measures to ensure the Department remains responsive to public policy needs and continues to foster confidence with the public and the Congress. In the discharge of this responsibility, the Panel will provide advice and recommendations to the SEAB, with regard to:

  • Appropriate balance between national security interests and the public's access to information;

  • Significant classification, declassification, openness and other public policy issues, including assuring the development and implementation of clearly stated and easily understood policies governing classification and declassification of information and documents;

  • Strategic direction for the Department's classification, declassification and openness programs;

  • Results of analyses and other studies by the Panel of classification, declassification and openness policies and procedures, with special emphasis on ensuring that the Department's classification, declassification and openness programs remain responsive to national security requirements and public policy needs;

  • Actions, including priorities for the declassification of Restricted Data, Formerly Restricted Data and National Security Information;

  • Cost-containment, including ensuring application of best business practices and addressing resource impacts of administrative and regulatory requirements;

  • Initiatives by the Department to enhance its reputation for honesty, integrity and fair dealing with the public, the Congress and others regarding all aspects of the Department's programs, with particular emphasis on classification, declassification and openness policies and programs; and

  • Other matters which may be assigned to the Panel by the SEAB.


    The Panel shall report as required to the SEAB, on its activities, findings, recommendations, plans and other relevant matters. Such reports should assess progress and management initiatives by the Department and its programs in meeting goals in areas such as national security, public accountability, productivity improvement, progress toward completion of declassification review commitments and other programmatic accomplishments.


    The Panel will meet at the call of the Chair, but not less than three times per year. Minutes of meetings will be recorded and an unclassified version will be published and made available to the public. Consistent with national security requirements, meetings will be open to the public to the maximum extent feasible.


    The Office of Declassification and the SEAB staff shall provide integrated staff support to the Panel. Duties shall include agenda and meeting preparation, development of issue and background papers and follow-up actions.