BREAKING: Administration Creates Interagency Review Teams for Overclassification and CUI
by Roger Strother*
May 27, 2009
Today, the Obama administration released a memo requiring reviews of overclassification and the current Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)/ Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU) process. The memo does not dictate any new procedures on how agencies must handle such designated material. However, it does establish an interagency 90-day review process to advise the administration on actions it should take to advance on previous efforts to reform these problems.
In terms of CUI, the memo is less than what was hoped for by some open-government advocates. The memo recognizes certain problems such as the limitation of CUI controls to terrorism-related information only and that the implementation process is not expected to be finalized until 2013. However, there are several other problems that do not seem to be recognized at all. Past abuses of CUI have created enormous roadblocks to our system of checks and balances when agencies use the designations to withhold information from Congressional investigations and Judicial proceedings. Further, the memo does not ask the interagency panel to look into establishing time limits to how long CUI control labels remain active…Such limits exist for classified info, but not CUI.
The upside is that the interagency task force established by the memo was directed to establish recommendations that balance the principles of openness, standardization of markings and handling of sensitive but unclassified information, and the need to keep certain information private. Hopefully the taskforce will go beyond the issues listed in the administration’s memo.