About Transforming Classification

Transforming Classification: An Introduction

Welcome to Transforming Classification, a blog sponsored by the Public Interest Declassification Board. President Obama has charged the Board with designing a more fundamental transformation of the security classification system. In response to his request, we are proposing new solutions that address the shortcomings of the current system and tackle the challenges of digital records. By reducing inefficiencies and increasing public access, our proposals aim to improve the classification/declassification’s system capacity to protect and serve the American people.

This blog began in 2011 when the Board posted “white paper” synopses  describing an element of our proposed transformation. White papers addressed the following topics:

Using Technology to Improve Classification and Declassification

  • Employ predictive analytics and context accumulation technology to encourage consistency in classification and efficiency in declassification

Reconsidering Information Management in the Electronic Environment

  • Implement a universal metadata standard for classified electronic (e-) records and integrate information and records management functions with archival processing

Regularizing the Declassification Review of Classified Congressional Records

  • Systematize and prioritize the declassification review of Legislative records at the NDC

Discretionary Declassification and Release of Contemporary National Security Information

  • Encourage policymakers to consider the advantages of not classifying certain categories of information or declassifying before prescribed deadlines

Simplifying the Declassification Review Process for Historical Records

  • Transfer agency declassification authority to the National Declassification Center (NDC) after declassification exemption timelines have lapsed

Stewardship of Our Classified History

  • Preposition topics of historical significance for declassification and underscore the importance of preserving agency contributions to national security history

Information Security and Access in the Electronic Environment

  • The role metadata and access controls can play in information security

A Half-Life for Historical Formerly Restricted Data (FRD)

  • Converting certain categories of FRD to national security classified information after 25 years and allowing for its review for declassification

Transforming the Security Classification System: A Report to the President

After a multi-year study that included consultations with experts in Government, the private sector, and the public interest community, we made recommendations to the President for a fundamental transformation of the security classification system.  On November 27, 2012, we delivered our Report on Transforming the Security Classification System to the President.  The report details fourteen key recommendations we believe will modernize classification and declassification through the adoption of new policies and practices, coupled with the integration of technology, throughout Government.

We released the report to the public on December 6, 2012.  We encourage you to use this blog to comment on the report and our recommendations, as well as make suggestions for transformation that you believe will modernize classification and declassification to meet user expectations in the digital age.  We also are interested in hearing your ideas as to how you believe the Board may assist the Government in implementing these recommendations.  Please continue to follow the Board’s activities on our blog and on our website: http://www.nara.gov/declassification/pidb.

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