Four Archivist and Records Management Organizations Embrace Calls for Improving Declassification by PIDB

Recommendations on Federal Archives and Records Management Issues, a report submitted last Tuesday (December 1, 2020) to President-Elect Joe Biden by four leading professional organizations of archivists and records managers records managers, cite the call for Government-wide declassification reform presented in the 2020 report to the President of the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB). The  Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, the Regional Archival Associations Consortium, and the Society of American Archivists prepared the report for President-Elect Biden’s Transition Team.  Their report also included  recommendations highlighting the need to reform information security oversight, a central issue underscored in the 2019 report to the President of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO).

Specific SAA recommendations to the President-Elect that further echo PIDB reports to the White House since 2008, include:

  • Coordinate between the National Declassification Center (NDC) and Executive agencies to implement a risk management approach in updating declassification policies and procedures
  • Support electronic records management as a core program requirement across the federal Government
  • Provide adequate resources for the NDC and Executive agencies to support the implementation of new and existing advanced technologies to support automated declassification review
  • End “Pass/Fail” declassification review by providing adequate resources to support line-by-line declassification review and specific redactions that allow for the partial release of records, rather than simply them withholding entirely

These recommendations represent a broad professional consensus for declassification reform in response to challenges posed by the dramatic and exponential increase in electronic records, and the lack of resources to implement digital solutions.

The consensus among archivists and records management professional organizations also recognizes the urgent need for the next President to coordinate the reform of declassification and information oversight across Executive agencies, and between every level of Government.

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