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Highlights

In recent years, the Congress has become increasingly concerned that federal agencies are misclassifying information. Classified information is material containing national defense or foreign policy information determined by the U.S. government to require protection for reasons of national security. GAO was asked to assess the extent to which (1) DOE's training, guidance, and oversight ensure that information is classified and declassified according to established criteria and (2) DOE has found documents to be misclassified.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy To help ensure that DOE classification activities remain effective and result in documents that are classified and declassified according to established criteria, the Secretary of Energy should ensure that the classified information oversight program provides oversight to a similar number of DOE sites, as it did before October 2005, and provides a similar depth of analysis.
Closed - Implemented
Prior to the transfer of classification oversight responsibilities to OSE, the Office of Classification had been inspecting an average of about 10-12 DOE sites a year. Mr. Edmonds states that in calendar year 2006 OSE inspected the classification programs of 15 DOE sights, also inspecting the OUO programs of about half of those sites. In 2007 Mr. Edmonds reports that 16 oversight inspections of DOE classification programs are scheduled. Mr. Edmonds states that the same depth of analysis deployed by the Office of Classification has been retained, and that the inspections are essentially the same. The biggest difference is that the appendix covering classifications issues in the larger OSE report is smaller and more concise.
Department of Energy To help ensure that DOE classification activities remain effective and result in documents that are classified and declassified according to established criteria, the Secretary of Energy should strengthen the review of classified documents by applying selection procedures that more randomly identify documents for review.
Closed - Implemented
As discussed in Mr. Podonsky's September 14, 2006, letter to GAO, OSE has attempted to obtain a more random selection of documents. Prior to arriving at the site, and as part of the self-assessment, the site provides OSE with the tallies of number and type of classified and controlled documents created since the last oversight inspection. From these numbers the program generates a stratified random sample. Once at the site, OSE inspectors randomly draw a large enough sample of documents from safes in proportion to the number and type of classified and controlled documents created so as to have 95% confidence that 99% of the documents have been classified or controlled, as well as the sample. As time permits, Mr. Edmonds states they will draw a larger sample, which serves to increase the confidence level.
Department of Energy To help ensure that DOE classification activities remain effective and result in documents that are classified and declassified according to established criteria, the Secretary of Energy should disclose the selection procedures used for documents for review in future classification inspection reports.
Closed - Implemented
Reece Edmonds, formerly of the Office of Classification, is in charge of classification oversight in the Office of Security Evaluations (OSE). The classification component of overall security evaluation report is Mr. Edmonds' responsibility. Mr. Edmonds stated that the methodology for selecting documents for review is referred to in the reports' general methodology sections and disclosed and described in more detail in the classification annex.

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