SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2016, Issue No. 38
April 25, 2016

Secrecy News Blog: http://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/

ODNI REVISES COSTLY DECLASSIFICATION RULE

As promised, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) last week formally withdrew a new rule on requesting declassification of classified ODNI records after receiving public complaints that it would have imposed onerous costs on requesters. A revised rule was then issued.

"ODNI received comments regarding the fee provisions [with] the recommendation that those provisions be withdrawn and replaced with fee provisions comparable to those in ODNI's Freedom of Information Act program," ODNI said in an April 22 Federal Register notice. (Comments to that effect from the Federation of American Scientists are here; comments submitted by Openthegovernment.org are here.)

"ODNI agrees and therefore is withdrawing its direct final rule."

A revised rule with amended fee provisions was published in the Federal Register today.

Under the revised rule:

* photocopying charges would be 10 cents per page instead of 50 cents per page;

* fees would be waived whenever costs incurred were $10 or less;

* and the revised rule now allows for a public interest waiver of fees when "the disclosure is likely to contribute significantly to the public understanding of the operations or activities of the United States Government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester."


DEFENSE REFORM: YES, BUT HOW? (AND MORE FROM CRS)

There is widespread dissatisfaction with the organization and performance of the Department of Defense, a new Congressional Research Service report says, but no consensus on what to do about it.

Driving the current debate, CRS says, are questions such as:

* "Why, after the expenditure of nearly $1.6 trillion and over 15 years at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, has the United States had such difficulty translating tactical and operational victories into sustainable political outcomes?"

* "Why, despite the expenditure of over $600 billion per year on defense, is the readiness of the force approaching critically low levels, according to military officials, while the number of platforms and capabilities being produced are generally short of perceived requirements?"

* "Why, despite tactical and operational adaptations around the world, is DOD often seen as having difficulty formulating strategies and policies in sufficient time to adapt to and meet the increasingly dynamic threat environment?"

"Taken together, [...] the issues raised by these questions suggest the systemic nature of the challenges with which the Department of Defense appears to be grappling. In other words, they suggest that DOD's organizational architecture and culture may merit serious review and analysis."

"This report is intended to assist Congress as it evaluates the variety of reform proposals currently under discussion." See Goldwater-Nichols at 30: Defense Reform and Issues for Congress, April 20, 2016:

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from online public disclosure include the following.

Defense Authorization and Appropriations Bills: FY1970-FY2016, updated April 20, 2016:

The World Drug Problem: UNGA Convenes for a Special Session, CRS Insight, April 20, 2016:

Climate Change Paris Agreement Opens for Signature, CRS Insight, April 20, 2016:

Negative Interest Rates, CRS Insight, April 20, 2016:

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa, April 22, 2016:

Department of Education Funding: Key Concepts and FAQ, April 22, 2016:

Congressional Nominations to U.S. Service Academies: An Overview and Resources for Outreach and Management, updated April 21, 2016:

Health Care for Veterans: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, April 21, 2016:

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy, updated April 20, 2016:

Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations, updated April 22, 2016:

Protection of Trade Secrets: Overview of Current Law and Legislation, updated April 22, 2016:

Freedom of Information Act Legislation in the 114th Congress: Issue Summary and Side-by-Side Analysis, updated April 21, 2016:

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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