Continuing Problems in DOD's Classification of National Security Information

LCD-80-16: Published: Oct 26, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 1979.

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GAO reviewed documents at 23 Department of Defense (DOD) installations in Hawaii, Europe, and the Canal Zone to evaluate the DOD security information classification program. Continuing problems with this program include: improper use of classification authority, improper classification of information, and deficiencies in marking classified information.

Improved training and inspections are needed to reduce deficiencies in the DOD classification program. Training of most classifiers generally consisted of orientation briefings for new staff members, periodic security briefings, and security- awareness type publications. Training focused on physical safeguards and proper marking of information, rather than proper classification. Inspections seldom included an evaluation of whether information had been properly classified. The focus in this area was also on physical safeguards and proper marking of information. Neither the Executive Order governing classification nor the implementing instructions contain requirements or guidance concerning the frequency or the types of inspections that are to be made.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should revise the information security program regulation to require that all classification guides, instructions, and revisions be reviewed during periodic, independent classification inspections to assure compliance with the provisions and intent of the Executive Order and the DOD regulation. It is further recommended that unresolved deviations from the requirements of the Order or the regulations, noted during these independent inspections, be brought to the attention of the Director of Information Security to assure their prompt resolution. The Secretary of Defense should revise the DOD information security program regulation to require that classified documents be portion marked to identify the specific information in them that requires protection for more than 6 years. The Secretary of Defense should revise the information security program regulation to provide for expanded training for individuals who classify information, originally or on a derivative basis, and that such training among other things, should concentrate on: the responsibility of all individuals to comply with the Executive Order and implementing instructions, who can classify national security information, what information is to be classified, and how to properly classify and mark such information. The Secretary of Defense should revise the information security program regulation to provide definitive guidance on the frequency of the different levels of inspection that should be made and the items to be covered by such inspections, with special reference to the need for inspections to question the propriety of classification decisions.

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