DOD Should Give Better Guidance and Training to Contractors Who Classify National Security Information

PLRD-81-3: Published: Mar 23, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the classification and marking of national security imformation by Department of Defense (DOD) contractors. In evaluating contractor compliance with the classification program requirements of Executive Order 12065 and the Department of Defense, GAO visited 20 contractors and sent 600 questionnaires to about 600 contractors nationwide.

Despite the specific requirements of the Executive Order and implementing instructions, GAO found: classification guidance was approved and issued by DOD contracting officers and security personnel who did not have original classification authority; classification guidance furnished by DOD was outdated, vague, inconsistent, and oral; and information was originally classified by contractor employees who were not authorized original classifiers. About 51 percent of the documents examined had one or more classification errors. While most contained some information that was overclassified, some contained information that was underclassified; about 90 percent of the documents were improperly marked for classification. GAO concluded that DOD needs to improve the classification guidance furnished to contractors; its program for training contractor employees in classification managment; and its program for inspecting contractor compliance with the Order, implementing instructions, and classification guidance.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should revise the industrial security program regulation to require that (1) DOD schools that train project managers emphasize the need for compliance with regulations concerning classification or guidance furnished to industry; (2) every solicitation or contract dealing with classified matters be accompanied by a contract security classification specification that has the concurrence of the cognizant security official; and (3) preaward and postaward conferences with contractors discuss security requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should revise the industrial security regulation to provide definitive guidance on the items to be covered by DOD inspectors, with special reference to the need for inspectors to question the propriety of classification decisions by contractors.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should revise the industrial security program regulation to (1) expand the industrial security education program to include more contractor personnel in the training courses given by the Defense Industrial Security Institute; and (2) provide assistance to contractors in developing and expanding their training programs on derivative classification.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. 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 classification guides, instructions, and revisions be reviewed during periodic independent classification inspections for compliance with the provisions and intent of the Executive Order.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should revise the industrial security manual to provide that contractors identify the source of original classification (a classification guide or classified document) and the office of origin on derivatively classified documents.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should revise the industrial security program regulation to clarify that contract security classification specifications not transmitting or referencing approved classification guides and containing the only classification guidance furnished to contractors are, in effect, classification guides and need to be approved personally and in writing by officials with top secret classification authority, as required by the Executive Order.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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