Barack Obama photo

Memorandum on Implementation of the Executive Order, "Classified National Security Information"

December 29, 2009

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

Subject: Implementation of the Executive Order, "Classified National Security Information"

Today I have signed an executive order entitled, "Classified National Security Information" (the "order"), which substantially advances my goals for reforming the security classification and declassification processes. I expect that the order will produce measurable progress towards greater openness and transparency in the Government's classification and declassification programs while protecting the Government's legitimate interests, and I will closely monitor the results. I also look forward to reviewing recommendations from the study that the National Security Advisor will undertake in cooperation with the Public Interest Declassification Board to design a more fundamental transformation of the security classification system. To further assist in fulfilling the goal of measurable progress toward greater openness and transparency, I hereby direct the following actions.

1. Initial Implementation Efforts.

Successful implementation of the order requires personal commitment from the heads of departments and agencies, as well as their senior officials. It also requires effective security education and training programs, self-inspection programs, and measures designed to hold personnel accountable.

In accordance with section 5.4 of the order, the head of each department and agency that creates or handles classified information shall provide the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) a copy of the department or agency regulations implementing the requirements of the order. Such regulations shall be issued in final form within 180 days of ISOO's publication of its implementing directive for the order. The Director of ISOO shall consider agency actions to implement the requirements of section 5.4 of the order as a key element in planning oversight of agencies. Each senior agency official designated under section 5.4(d) of the order shall provide ISOO with updates concerning agency plans and other actions to implement the requirements of the order. The Director of ISOO shall publish a periodic status report on agency implementation.

2. Declassification of Records of Permanent Historical Value.

Under the direction of the National Declassification Center (NDC), and utilizing recommendations of an ongoing Business Process Review in support of the NDC, referrals and quality assurance problems within a backlog of more than 400 million pages of accessioned Federal records previously subject to automatic declassification shall be addressed in a manner that will permit public access to all declassified records from this backlog no later than December 31, 2013. In order to promote the efficient and effective utilization of finite resources available for declassification, further referrals of these records are not required except for those containing information that would clearly and demonstrably reveal: (a) the identity of a confidential human source or a human intelligence source; or (b) key design concepts of weapons of mass destruction.

The Secretaries of State, Defense, and Energy, and the Director of National Intelligence shall provide the Archivist of the United States with sufficient guidance to complete this task. The Archivist shall make public a report on the status of the backlog every 6 months.

3. Delegation of Original Classification Authority.

Delegations of original classification authority shall be limited to the minimum necessary to implement the order and only those individuals or positions with a demonstrable and continuing need to exercise such authority shall be delegated original classification authority.

Accordingly, heads of departments and agencies with original classification authority shall commence a review to ensure that all delegations of original classification authority are so limited and otherwise in accordance with section 1.3(c) of the order. Each department and agency shall submit a report on the results of this review to the Director of ISOO within 120 days of the date of this memorandum.

4. Promotion of New Technologies to Support Declassification.

Striking the critical balance between openness and secrecy is a difficult but necessary part of our democratic form of government. Striking this balance becomes more difficult as the volume and complexity of the information increases. Improving the capability of departments and agencies to identify still-sensitive information and to make declassified information available to the public are integral parts of the classification system.

Therefore, I am directing that the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence each support research to assist the NDC in addressing the cross-agency challenges associated with declassification.

5. Publication. The Archivist of the United States is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


NOTE: This memorandum was published in the Federal Register on January 5.

Barack Obama, Memorandum on Implementation of the Executive Order, "Classified National Security Information" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives