The Public Interest Declassification Board commemorates James Madison’s birthday and Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week is an annual initiative designed to raise awareness of the importance of citizen access to Government information.  This commemoration coincides with National Freedom of Information Day and James Madison’s birthday (March 16).

We reaffirm the principle that an Open Government is essential in our democracy.  An informed citizenry, actively participating in debating and discussing the actions of its government leaders, is only possible when they have all necessary access to government information.  In December, we issued our supplemental report, Setting Priorities: An Essential Step in Transforming Declassification, as an aid to government policymakers and practitioners.  This report provided six recommendations to support improved declassification policies.  The recommendations focused on prioritizing declassification to those records that are most sought-after by the public and those records that are historically significant and of interest to policy makers, citizens, historians and researchers.

We continue to advocate for new policies to implement an improved declassification system.  These new policies are necessary as government information generation increases.  We believe that technological solutions offer the only answer to the long-term challenge of managing this exponential growth of information across government.  There remains an ever-increasing amount of government records and digital information inaccessible to the public.  Prioritization will set-up this information for a public access review, but providing real access will require automated workflow tools, advanced search and retrieval capabilities, and content understanding technologies if we want to seriously amend the system and increase declassification to an acceptable level.

In 2015, the PIDB intends to focus on learning more about these technologies and how they can be used to increase and improve declassification.  The PIDB will continue advocating for their testing and implementation at the National Declassification Center and at agencies.  We have long-supported the idea that modernization requires the adoption of these technologies.  We look forward to working with the Security Classification Reform Committee, agencies and the public to advance our mutual goal of reforming our policies and practices for today’s digital age.

 

 

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