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105th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 1546

  To provide for a system to classify information in the interests of 
     national security and a system to declassify such information.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                              May 7, 1997

 Mr. Hamilton  (for himself and Mr. Combest) introduced the following 
  bill; which was referred to the Committee on Government Reform and 
Oversight, and in addition to the Committees on Intelligence (Permanent 
    Select), and National Security, for a period to be subsequently 
   determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such 
 provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
  To provide for a system to classify information in the interests of 
     national security and a system to declassify such information.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the "Government Secrecy Act of 1997".

SEC. 2. PURPOSE.

    It is the purpose of this Act to promote the effective protection 
of classified information and the disclosure of information where there 
is not a well-founded basis for protection or where the costs of 
maintaining a secret outweigh the benefits.

SEC. 3. FINDINGS.

    The Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) The system for classifying and declassifying national 
        security information has been based in regulation, not in 
        statute, and has been governed by six successive Executive 
        orders since 1951.
            (2) The Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government 
        Secrecy, established under Public Law 103-236, issued its 
        report on March 4, 1997 (S. Doc. 105-2), in which it 
        recommended reducing the volume of information classified and 
        strengthening the protection of classified information.
            (3) The absence of a statutory framework has resulted in 
        unstable and inconsistent classification and declassification 
        policies, excessive costs, and inadequate implementation.
            (4) The implementation of Executive orders will be even 
        more costly as more documents are prepared and used on 
        electronic systems.
            (5) United States taxpayers incur substantial costs as 
        several million documents are classified each year. According 
        to figures submitted to the Information Security Oversight 
        Office and the Congress, the executive branch and private 
        industry together spent more than $5.2 billion in 1996 to 
        protect classified information.
            (6) A statutory foundation for the classification and 
        declassification of information is likely to result in a more 
        stable and cost-effective set of policies and a more consistent 
        application of rules and procedures.
            (7) Enactment of a statute would create an opportunity for 
        greater oversight by the Congress of executive branch 
        classification and declassification activities, without 
        impairing the responsibility of executive branch officials for 
        the day-to-day administration of the system.

SEC. 4. CLASSIFICATION AND DECLASSIFICATION OF INFORMATION.

    (a) Classification For National Security Reasons.--The President 
may, in accordance with this Act, protect from unauthorized disclosure 
information in the possession and control of the executive branch when 
there is a demonstrable need to do so in order to protect the national 
security of the United States. The President shall ensure that the 
amount of information classified is the minimum necessary to protect 
the national security.
    (b) Procedures for Classification and Declassification.--
            (1) In general.--The President shall, to the extent 
        necessary, establish categories of information that may be 
        classified and procedures for classifying information under 
        subsection (a). The President shall, concurrently with the 
        establishment of such categories and procedures, establish, and 
        allocate resources for the implementation of, procedures for 
        declassifying information previously classified.
            (2) Publication of categories and procedures.--
                    (A) The President shall publish notice in the 
                Federal Register of any categories and procedures 
                proposed to be established under paragraph (1) with 
                respect to both the classification and declassification 
                of information, and shall provide an opportunity for 
                interested agencies and other interested persons to 
                submit comments thereon. The President shall take into 
                account such comments before establishing the 
                categories and procedures, which shall also be 
                published in the Federal Register.
                    (B) The procedures set forth in subparagraph (A) 
                shall apply to any modifications in categories or 
                procedures established under paragraph (1).
            (3) Agency standards and procedures.--The head of each 
        agency shall establish standards and procedures for classifying 
        and declassifying information created by that agency on the 
        basis of the categories and procedures established by the 
        President under paragraph (1). Each agency head, in 
        establishing and modifying standards and procedures under this 
        paragraph, shall follow the procedures required of the 
        President in paragraph (2) for establishing and modifying 
        categories and procedures under that paragraph.
    (c) Considerations in Determining Classification and 
Declassification.--
            (1) In general.--In determining whether information should 
        be classified or declassified, the agency official making the 
        determination shall weigh the benefit from public disclosure of 
        the information against the need for initial or continued 
        protection of the information under the classification system. 
        If there is significant doubt as to whether information 
        requires such protection, it shall not be classified.
            (2) Written justification.--
                    (A) Original classification.--The agency official 
                who makes the decision to classify information shall 
                identify himself or herself and shall provide in 
                writing a detailed justification for that decision.
                    (B) Derivative classification.--In any case in 
                which an agency official classifies a document on the 
                basis of information previously classified that is 
                included or referenced in the document, that agency 
                official shall identify himself or herself in that 
                document.
    (d) Standards for Declassification.--
            (1) Initial classification period.--Information may not 
        remain classified under this Act for longer than a 10-year 
        period unless the head of the agency that created the 
        information certifies to the President at the end of such 
        period that the information requires continued protection, 
        based on a current assessment of the risks of disclosing the 
        information, carried out in accordance with subsection (c)(1).
            (2) Additional classification period.--Information not 
        declassified prior to or at the end of the 10-year period 
        referred to in paragraph (1) may not remain classified for more 
        than a 30-year period unless the head of the agency that 
        created the information certifies to the President at the end 
        of such 30-year period that continued protection of the 
        information from unauthorized disclosure is essential to the 
        national security of the United States or that demonstrable 
        harm to an individual will result from release of the 
        information.
            (3) Declassification schedules.--All classified information 
        shall be subject to regular review pursuant to schedules each 
        agency head shall establish and publish in the Federal 
        Register. Each agency shall follow the schedule established by 
        the agency head in declassifying information created by that 
        agency.
            (4) Assessment of existing classified information.--Each 
        agency official responsible for information which, before the 
        effective date of this Act--
                    (A) was determined to be kept protected from 
                unauthorized disclosure in the interest of national 
                security, and
                    (B) had been kept so protected for longer than the 
                10-year period referred to in paragraph (1),
        shall, to the extent feasible, give priority to making 
        decisions with respect to declassifying that information as 
        soon as is practicable.
    (e) Reports to Congress.--Not later than December 31 of each year, 
the head of each agency that is responsible for the classification and 
declassification of information shall submit to the Congress a report 
that describes the application of the classification and 
declassification standards and procedures of that agency during the 
preceding fiscal year.
    (f) Amendment to Freedom of Information Act.--Section 552(b)(1) of 
title 5, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
            "(1)(A) specifically authorized to be classified under the 
        Government Secrecy Act of 1997, or specifically authorized, 
        before the effective date of that Act, under criteria 
        established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the 
        interest of national security (as defined by section 7(6) of 
        the Government Secrecy Act of 1997), and (B) are in fact 
        properly classified pursuant to that Act or Executive order;".

SEC. 5. NATIONAL DECLASSIFICATION CENTER.

    (a) Establishment.--The President shall establish, within an 
existing agency, a National Declassification Center, the functions of 
which shall be--
            (1) to coordinate and oversee the declassification policies 
        and practices of the Federal Government; and
            (2) to provide technical assistance to agencies in 
        implementing such policies and practices, in accordance with 
        this section.
    (b) Functions.--
            (1) Declassification of information.--The Center shall, at 
        the request of any agency and on a reimbursable basis, 
        declassify information within the possession of that agency 
        pursuant to the guidance of that agency on the basis of the 
        declassification standards and procedures established by that 
        agency under section 4, or if another agency created the 
        information, pursuant to the guidance of that other agency on 
        the basis of the declassification standards and procedures 
        established by that agency under section 4. In carrying out 
        this paragraph, the Center may use the services of officers or 
        employees or the resources of another agency, with the consent 
        of the head of that agency.
            (2) Coordination of policies.--The Center shall coordinate 
        implementation by agencies of the declassification policies and 
        procedures established by the President under section 4 and 
        shall ensure that declassification of information occurs in an 
        efficient, cost-effective, and consistent manner among all 
        agencies that create or otherwise are in possession of 
        classified information.
            (3) Disputes.--If disputes arise among agencies regarding 
        whether information should or should not be classified, or 
        between the Center and any agency regarding the Center's 
        functions under this section, the heads of the agencies 
        concerned or of the Center may refer the matter to the 
        President for resolution of the dispute.
    (c) National Declassification Advisory Committee.--
            (1) In general.--There is established a 12-member National 
        Declassification Advisory Committee. 4 members of the Advisory 
        Committee shall be appointed by the President and 2 members 
        each shall be appointed by the majority and minority leaders of 
        the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and 
        the minority leader of the House of Representatives.
            (2) Membership.--The members of the Advisory Committee 
        shall be appointed from among distinguished historians, 
        political scientists, archivists, other social scientists, and 
        other members of the public who have a demonstrable expertise 
        in declassification and the management of Government records. 
        No officer or employee of the United States Government shall be 
        appointed to the Advisory Committee.
            (3) Duties.--The Advisory Committee shall provide advice to 
        the Center and make recommendations concerning declassification 
        priorities and activities.
    (d) Annual Reports.--The Center shall submit to the President and 
the Congress, not later than December 31 of each year, a report on its 
activities during the preceding fiscal year, and on the implementation 
of agency declassification practices and its efforts to coordinate 
those practices.

SEC. 6. INFORMATION TO THE CONGRESS.

    Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the withholding 
of information from the Congress.

SEC. 7. DEFINITIONS.

    As used in this Act--
            (1) the term "Advisory Committee" means the National 
        Declassification Advisory Committee established under section 
        5(c);
            (2) the term "agency" means any executive agency as 
        defined in section 105 of title 5, United States Code, any 
        military department as defined in section 102 of such title, 
        and any other entity in the executive branch of the Government 
        that comes into the possession of classified information;
            (3) the term "Center" means the National Declassification 
        Center established under section 5(a);
            (4) the terms "classify", "classified", and 
        "classification" refer to the process by which information is 
        determined to require protection from unauthorized disclosure 
        pursuant to this Act in order to protect the national security 
        of the United States;
            (5) the terms "declassify", "declassified", and 
        "declassification" refer to the process by which information 
        that has been classified is determined to no longer require 
        protection from unauthorized disclosure pursuant to this Act; 
        and
            (6) the term "national security of the United States" 
        means the national defense or foreign relations of the United 
        States.

SEC. 8. EFFECTIVE DATE.

    This Act shall take effect 180 days after the date of the enactment 
of this Act.




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