SSCI Members Embrace Need for Declassification Reform, Discuss PIDB Recommendations at Senate Hearing

The Board would like to thank Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), and members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for their invitation to testify yesterday (September 9, 2020) at the open hearing on “Declassification Policy and Prospects for Reform.”   

At the hearing, PIDB Member John Tierney responded to questions from committee members about recommendations in the PIDB’s May 2020 Report to the President. He stressed the need for modernizing information security systems and the critical importance of sustained leadership through a senior-level Executive Agent (EA) to oversee and implement meaningful reform. In addition to Congressman Tierney, Greg Koch, the Acting Director of Information Management in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), testified in response to the SSCI’s concerns about the urgent need to improve how the Executive Branch classifies and declassifies national security information. Much of the discussion focused on the PIDB recommendation that the President designate the ODNI as the EA to coordinate the application of information technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to modernize classification and declassification across the Executive Branch.

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is a member of the SSCI, joined the hearing to discuss the bill they are cosponsoring to modernize declassification. Their proposed “Declassification Reform Act of 2020aligns with the PIDB Report recommendations, including the recommendation to designate the ODNI as the EA for coordinating the required reforms. The Board would like to thank Senators Moran and Wyden for their continued support and attention to this crucial issue. Modernizing the classification and declassification system is important for our 21st century national security and it is important for transparency and our democracy.

Video of the entire hearing is available to view at the SSCI’s website, and from C-SPAN.  The transcript of prepared testimony submitted to the SSCI by Mr. Tierney is posted on the PIDB website.

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