On Friday, the President issued the Second Open Government National Action Plan (NAP) as part of the Open Government Partnership, a cornerstone of his administration. I am very happy to report that the NAP contains the specific initiative, “Transform the Security Classification System.” Under this initiative, the President pledges to implement reforms that will keep classification to the “minimum required to meet legitimate national security needs.” He also reiterates his position that all classified information will be made available to the public through declassification once the need for secrecy has passed.
The NAP specifically references the PIDB’s report on Transforming the Security Classification System as a way forward to reduce classification and simplify the classification system for users. It includes the primary recommendation from the PIDB in our report: to establish a White-House led Security Classification Review Committee to drive reform and oversee the vetting of the fourteen recommendations in our report. We are pleased that the White House has taken our report seriously and is reviewing it in the inter-agency process. We understand Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco will be in charge of ensuring a full review. We look forward to a continuing dialogue on our report’s recommendations.
I am also gratified that the NAP specifically tasks the newly established Security Classification Review Committee to work with the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and Department of State to develop and implement a systematic review process for the declassification of historical information on nuclear programs (Formerly Restricted Data or FRD) that are obsolete. The process will focus on reviewing specific events and topics of historical nuclear policy interest and include ways for the public to identify priorities for declassification review.
When the President tasked the PIDB with studying the security classification system and recommending changes for transformation, he clearly intended to modernize and reform the system to one that will function today and in the future. We share the President’s vision of a security classification system that limits secrecy and promotes transparency whenever and wherever possible. We congratulate the President and thank him for his continued commitment to open the government and reform secrecy in the interest of both the national security and transparency and accountability of government.