Improved Executive Branch Oversight Needed for the Government's National Security Information Classification Program

LCD-78-125: Published: Mar 9, 1979. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1979.

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There is a need for better control of the government's classification program, particularly as to classifying less information and declassifying it sooner. The National Security Council (NSC) was directed to monitor implementation of the National Security Information Classification Program with the assistance of an Interagency Classification Review Committee (ICRC). An evaluation of the ICRC monitoring system was made.

Oversight of the program has been ineffective because NSC and ICRC did not enforce compliance and the ICRC staff did not make indepth reviews of the classification process. The total number of classification actions is at least 70 million, but it could be over 100 million. The declassification status of the 4.5 million actions ICRC reported was not shown, but review indicated that most were exempt from the general declassification schedule.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services Adminstration (GSA), in consultation with NSC, should: (1) require the Information Security Oversight Office to report to the Administrator and NSC when an agency fails to comply with significant provisions of Executive Order 12065 concerning the national security information program; and (2) provide the Oversight Office with sufficient staff to develop and carry out a strong program of indepth, onsite reviews at major installations that classify national security information. The Administrator, GSA, in consultation with NSC, should also direct the Information Security Oversight Office to: (1) require agencies, except those specifically exempted by NSC, to submit statistical reports on their classification actions, actions exempted from declassification within the prescribed 6-year period, classification abuses and unauthorized disclosures of classified information, authorized classifiers, and annual physical inventories of top secret material; (2) fully disclose the amount and significance of statistical information not included in its annual reports and the reasons for the omission; and (3) require that personnel who apply derivative classification markings be identified on the documents.

    Agency Affected:


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