Report on Transforming Classification Released

On Thursday, December 6, the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) released its long-anticipated Report to the President on Transforming the Security Classification System. President Obama directed the PIDB to compile the report in a December 2009 Presidential Memo on Implementation of the Executive Order, "Classified National Security Information."

The report's recommendations clearly reflect the belief that the federal government classifies too much material. Among the most notable recommendations are the appointment of a White House-led Security Classification Reform Steering Committee, reducing the existing categories of classified information from three to two, and strengthening the authority and capacity of the National Declassification Center (NDC). In Secrecy News, Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists particularly praised the PIDB and the report for emphasizing the need for leadership from the President to fix the system given the entrenched culture of secrecy at many agencies.

According to Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, "The PIDB's understanding of how hard it will be to change the national security bureaucracy's tendency to withhold information has clearly informed its report. Its recommendations provide a road map of necessary steps to ensure we can protect sensitive information and have an open and accountable government. We hope the President acts on these recommendations quickly."

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