Reining in “Controlled Unclassified” Information: Time to Get the Job Done

The administration’s 2nd Open Government National Action Plan, released Dec. 6, includes a welcome commitment to implement the reforms laid out in President Obama’s 2010 executive order on controlled unclassified information (CUI).

Background

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Defense Department Takes Narrower Approach to Controlled Unclassified Information

A new Department of Defense (DOD) rule requires defense contractors to protect “unclassified controlled technical information” from unauthorized access and disclosure. The rule, issued Nov. 18, is much narrower than DOD’s proposed rule, which had raised concerns that it could result in the inappropriate withholding of public information.

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Whistleblower Reveals U.S. Spy Agencies' Secret Budget

Details on the secret U.S. spy budget spilled into the public realm yesterday after The Washington Post published selective pages from the 16-agency intelligence community’s fiscal year 2012 congressional budget justification, leaked by former Booz Allen Hamilton employee Edward Snowden.

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Celebrating Sunshine Week 2013

Sunshine Week, a nationwide initiative highlighting the importance of open government and accountability, will be held this year from March 10-16. Created by journalists in 2002, Sunshine Week is designed to educate people on their right to access public information in understandable, user-friendly formats to participate more effectively in democracy and to use such information to protect and improve their communities.

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National Archives Launches Initial CUI Registry

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) today launched the initial registry of controlled unclassified information (CUI) categories that agencies can use to safeguard sensitive but unclassified information. President Obama called for the registry in his executive order on CUI, which he signed one year ago today.

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A Face-to-Face with the President about Transparency

Yesterday, I had a once-in-a-career opportunity – to discuss transparency in the Oval Office with the President of the United States.

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Administration Scores a ‘Shows Improvement’ on Secrecy Report Card

Today, OpenTheGovernment.org released their annual Secrecy Report card, which tracks key indicators and statistics for executive branch secrecy. The Obama administration came into office placing a high priority on transparency and collaboration, promising to be the most open and accountable administration in history. The report, which covers the first 9 months of the Obama presidency, indicates the administration made noticeable progress in several areas.

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Administration Moves to Postpone Records Declassification

The Federation of American Scientists blog, Secrecy News, revealed early last week that a revised draft of an executive order on the classification of national security information was circulated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in mid-November.  Despite consulting with the open government community during the policy making process, the policy is rumored to be an unfortunate step backward.

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Intelligence Community Tries & Fails to add Silly Exemption to FOIA

Earlier this month, the Washington Post ran a story about the intelligence community’s efforts to push legislators to amend the Intelligence Authorization Act (S. 1494) to exempt “terrorist identity information (TII)” from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Currently, this information is marked as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) with a stamp that reads “for official use only” but the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) made claims that the information could readily be requested under FOIA with little protection.  We have proof that these claims were ridiculous.

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OpenTheGovernment.org Issues New Secrecy Report Card

Today, OpenTheGovernment.org released its 2009 Secrecy Report Card.  The report makes use of most quantitative indicators currently available to compare the Obama and Bush administrations.  While it is too early to effectively compare the two administrations the report notes a slight decrease in secrecy levels during the end of the Bush administration.  Further, while the Obama administration is pursuing a promise of unprecidented openness the results are mixed.

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