Oversight of the Government's Security Classification Program--Some Improvement Still Needed

LCD-81-13: Published: Dec 16, 1980. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 1980.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

A March 1979 GAO report on executive branch oversight discussed the ineffectiveness of the Interagency Classification Review Committee in monitoring the government's information security program. GAO made several recommendations to ensure that agencies comply with the provisions of the Executive order.

As a result of the implementation of some of the recommendations, oversight of the program has improved. In some cases, however, the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) did not take the necessary actions to ensure effective agency compliance with the order. The staff has almost doubled, and more comprehensive inspections are being made. The Oversight Office's first annual report was more informative than prior reports. The Oversight Office is not requiring agencies to submit complete statistics on the number of classification actions, declassification categories assigned to information, mandatory review requests and appeals, individuals who classify information, and classification infractions. It has taken no steps to implement the GAO recommendation that personnel who are not original classifiers, but who apply classification markings on a derivative basis, be identified on the documents. Oversight Office waivers granted to the Departments of Defense and Energy allowing them to refrain from marking the classification level of each portion of a document containing both national security information and restricted or formerly restricted data covered by the Atomic Energy Act should be rescinded. Agencies have written directives which deny the Oversight Office access to records not specified in the Executive Order on the basis of an Oversight Office directive which was intended to control unauthorized dissemination of classified information provided by one agency to another.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should, in consultation with the National Security Council, direct ISOO to revise its instructions to require that personnel who apply derivative classification markings be identified on the documents.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  2. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should, in consultation with the National Security Council, direct ISOO to rescind the January 30, 1980, waiver to the Departments of Defense and Energy concerning portion marking national security information contained in documents that also contain restricted or formerly restricted data.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  3. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should, in consultation with the National Security Council, direct ISOO to revise section IV D of its implementing directive to clarify that the only records that can be denied to ISOO in carrying out its oversight function are those whose disclosure would pose and exceptional national security risk.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

  4. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services should, in consultation with the National Security Council, direct ISOO to work with agencies to develop cost-effective methods of accumulating and reporting program activity so that agency reports contain complete information on: (1) all classification actions; (2) the declassification categories assigned to classification actions; (3) mandatory review requests and appeals; (4) the number of individuals who classify information; and (5) classification infractions.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 20, 2016

Sep 15, 2016

Jun 29, 2016

Jun 21, 2016

Apr 28, 2016

Apr 14, 2016

Apr 12, 2016

Mar 23, 2016

Dec 17, 2015

Nov 17, 2015

Looking for more? Browse all our products here