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Directive on the Need for Maintaining the Confidential Status of Employee Loyalty Records

March 15, 1948

[Released March 15, 1948. Dated March 13, 1948]

Memorandum to all officers and employees in the executive branch of the Government:

The efficient and just administration of the Employee Loyalty Program, under Executive Order No. 9835 of March 21, 1947, requires that reports, records, and files relative to the program be preserved in strict confidence. This is necessary in the interest of our national security and welfare, to preserve the confidential character and sources of information furnished, and to protect Government personnel against the dissemination of unfounded or disproved allegations. It is necessary also in order to insure the fair and just disposition of loyalty cases.

For these reasons, and in accordance with the long-established policy that reports rendered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other investigative agencies of the executive branch are to be regarded as confidential, all reports, records, and files relative to the loyalty of employees or prospective employees (including reports of such investigative agencies), shall be maintained in confidence, and shall not be transmitted or disclosed except as required in the efficient conduct of business.

Any subpena or demand or request for information, reports, or files of the nature described, received from sources other than those persons in the executive branch of the Government who are entitled thereto by reason of their official duties, shall be respectfully declined, on the basis of this directive, and the subpena or demand or other request shall be referred to the Office of the President for such response as the President may determine to be in the public interest in the particular case. There shall be no relaxation of the provisions of this directive except with my express authority.

This directive shall be published in the Federal Register.


Note: On the same day the White House released a statement concerning the President's directive. The statement traced the development from Washington's day of the principle that the President may refuse to divulge or to permit the divulgence of confidential information outside the executive branch. Among the precedents cited was a letter from Attorney General Jackson, dated April 30, 1941, refusing to furnish certain FBI reports to the House Committee on Naval Affairs. Stating that the letter was written with the approval and at the direction of President Roosevelt, the Attorney General said that disclosure of the reports could not do otherwise than seriously prejudice law enforcement. "Counsel for a defendant or prospective defendant could have no greater help than to know how much or how little information the Government has, and what witnesses or sources of information it can rely on." The Attorney General added that the courts had repeatedly held that they would not and could not require the Executive to produce such papers when in the opinion of the Executive their production is contrary to the public interest.

For Executive Order 9835, see title 3 to the Code of Federal Regulations, 1943-1948 Compilation, page 627.

Harry S Truman, Directive on the Need for Maintaining the Confidential Status of Employee Loyalty Records Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232467

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