Classified Documents on the Rise Despite Obama Talk of Transparency

Friday, April 29, 2011
In the 15 months after President Barack Obama ordered the federal government to decrease the amount of classified information, less than half of all relevant agencies had bothered to establish policies to comply. In fact, in FY 2010, government agencies actually disrupted a five-year trend by classifying many more documents than in the previous year.
The number of classified decisions jumped 23% from 183,224 to 224,734. The good news, from the point of view of transparency, is that the number of officials with the power to classify information dropped to a record low of 2,378, including 901 who have the authority to issue Top Secret classifications.
According to the Information Security Oversight Office, which is part of The National Archives and Records Administration, only 19 of the 41 agencies affected by Obama’s executive ordered had issued final implementing regulations as of March 15 of this year.
Only one of the 19 that did issue new rules was from the military or intelligence community: the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The State Department, the largest generator of classified documents in 2010 (almost 70% of the national total), was one of the 22 that failed to produce regulations.
Executive Order 13526 called on government bureaucrats to have new policies in place by mid-September 2010 that erred on the side of not classifying records when “significant doubt” existed over keeping things secret.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
2010 Report to the President (Information Security Oversight Office) (pdf)


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