The PIDB hosted a public meeting on Thursday, June 23, 2016 at the National Archives. The meeting was an opportunity to engage publicly with White House leadership on progress in developing a technology investment strategy for the management of classified information. The meeting was also a chance to hear comments from current and former members of the PIDB and have a dialog with civil society groups, government stakeholders and the public on the work of the PIDB. You may view the meeting here and its transcript here.
Mr. John Fitzpatrick, Senior Director for Records Access and Information Security Management at the National Security Council, provided a summary of the progress he is making to instigate White House commitment to improving declassification through the use of technology. Mr. Fitzpatrick provided an update on the collaborative work of the Classification Reform Committee and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to build a cross-agency program leveraging technology and altering long-standing policy and practice. This is a challenge never before addressed at this level of government. Mr. Fitzpatrick indicated the expressed interest of the President has incentivized the Executive Branch to complete the framework for the technology investment strategy in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of a new program in the years ahead.
The impetus for White House-level commitment in building a technology strategy stemmed from previous recommendations made by the PIDB. The members have recommended in all of their previously published reports the need for the government to seriously commit to improved technology for the specific purpose of modernizing classification, declassification and records management. In an effort to expand on these ideas, the PIDB published its newest white paper, The Importance of Technology in Classification and Declassification. The white paper describes the work of the PIDB to study in-depth agency declassification technology initiatives. It summarizes findings made by the PIDB’s Declassification Technology Working Group to understand how ready agencies are for managing classified information in the digital age and what challenges, barriers and opportunities exist for modernization across the government. The narrative also makes more specific recommendations on next steps and addresses the needs of agencies, including the requirement of more resources to fund technology investment for these programs.
The public meeting was also an opportunity for the public to hear from the members. Nancy Soderberg, the PIDB’s outgoing Chair, had an opportunity to provide observations from her time on the PIDB, including giving candid commentary on the need for immediate action by the White House to provide resources and solidify a policy and strategy for improved technology investment for classification, declassification and records management. The PIDB’s Acting Chair, William Leary, also announced the impending appointments of new members James E. Baker and Trevor W. Morrison (who will also be the PIDB’s new chair).
The PIDB will continue its engagement with civil society groups and the public in the coming months as it begins discussing what policy recommendations it will make to the incoming Administration concerning transformation. Please continue to remain engage with the work of the PIDB through its blog and website.