When President-Elect Joe Biden takes office at noon on January 20, 2021, Executive Order 13526 (E.O.) will be over 10 years old. The E.O. “prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information, including information relating to defense against transnational terrorism”— but a lot has changed over the past decade. Transnational terrorism now shares a place among many emerging threats to democratic order that include the propagation of disinformation, and cybersecurity. Government operations now require rapid information sharing and secure communications. Since E.O. 13526 came into force in 2009, there have been powerful innovations in information technology, an unending proliferation of electronic data, and means to communicate.
In its May 2020 report to the President, the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) called for Government-wide reform of the nation’s outdated classification and declassification system.
Overwhelmed by the deluge of electronic national security information, declassification remains paper-based and disconnected between many Executive branch agencies that lack such basic tools as classified network connectivity to perform interagency equity reviews. The PIDB’s 2020 report followed seven reports to the White House or the President since 2008 that recognized the still accelerating consequences of digitization and the urgent need to apply innovations such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation to modernize declassification and reform information security.
Yet, the challenge remains and expands.
With a sense of urgency, the PIDB wants your ideas on how best to modernize classification, declassification and information security policies and practices, including how to use technologies to accomplish those objectives. Please submit your ideas as comments to this blog, or as emails to the PIDB email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The PIDB and staff hope to use your ideas and comments as it begins its outreach and advocacy efforts with the new Administration and the new Congress.