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National Declassification Center- Sheryl J. Shenberger

National Declassification Center- Sheryl J. Shenberger

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Published by: National Press Foundation on Oct 03, 2011
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02/06/2013

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Standing Up the National Declassification Center

RELEASING ALL WE CAN, PROTECTING WHAT WE MUST
6 JUNE 2011

SHERYL J. SHENBERGER D/NDC

Establishing the NDC
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 Executive Order 13526, signed by President Obama on 29 December 2009,

directed the Archivist of the United States to establish a National Declassification Center (NDC) that would:
  

Streamline declassification processes. Facilitate quality assurance measures. Implement standard training for declassification reviewers.

 On 4 January 2010, less than a week after the President signed EO 13526,

NARA established the NDC at Archives II in College Park, Maryland.  A Presidential Memorandum accompanying the EO provided guidance on where the NDC should focus first. Specifically, by 31 December 2013, the NDC must process for release or properly exempt, the approximately 408* million pages of previously reviewed archival Federal records accessioned to NARA (aka “The Backlog.”)
*A moving target that has been as high as 418M pp and as low as 386M pp. Currently, the backlog is assessed at 389.3M pp.
NDC Releasing All We Can, Protecting What We Must

June 2011

Accessioning Permanent Records The Record Lifecycle

Onsite Storage
Mission Record

National Archives

Agency Archive Storage
Temporary Records Destroyed

Temporary Records Destroyed

Federal Record Center Storage
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Temporary Records Destroyed

Types of Declassification
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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – Broad requests from the public that include classified records – Declassification review conducted by Original Classification Authority (OCA) – Must include a public release review for other restrictions such as privacy Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) – Requests from the public for specific classified records – Declassification review conducted by the OCA – Must include a public release review for other restrictions such as privacy

 Automatic  Review of all permanent classified records as they reach 25 years of age  May be conducted by delegated authority/OCA  Depending on agency, may also include privacy review in order to release

Systematic

Review of classified records previously exempted under Automatic Review – Typically based on collection or special request.

NDC Releasing All We Can, Protecting What We Must

June 2011

Referrals
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During current Automatic Declassification review, agencies generally work with all original records, not courtesy photocopies or scanned „images‟ – In paper records an SF715 “tab” is placed around the record – Reviewers indicate any other agencies that may need to make a review decision on their embedded equity  Unless given specific waiver authority, agencies cannot declassify another agency‟s information – The OCA retains control of the classified information  Referral Review in Automatic Declassification is part of the “Rolling Requirement” of records as they reach 25 years of age

Agencies must review referrals made to them as well as review own agency material
June 2011

NDC Releasing All We Can, Protecting What We Must

Referrals Complicate the Declassification Process
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 Time constraints: Per (EO 13526, 3.3 sec d (3)(B)) NDC prioritizes referrals, taking

into account sensitivity and public interest. If an agency fails to provide a final determination on a referral made by the Center within one year of referral, or by the centralized facilities referred to in section 3.7(e) of this order within three years of referral, its equities in the referred records shall be automatically declassified (late finds have three years.)  By 31 December 2012, all records exempted from automatic declassification under paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section shall be automatically declassified on December 31 of a year that is no more than 50 years from the date of origin, subject to the following:

(1) Records that contain information the release of which should clearly and demonstrably be expected to reveal the following are exempt from automatic declassification at 50 years:

(A) the identity of a confidential human source or a human intelligence source; or (B) key design concepts of weapons of mass destruction.

 In special cases, records exempted from automatic declassification under this

paragraph shall be automatically declassified on December 31 of a year that is no more than 75 years from the date of origin unless an agency head, within 5 years of that date, proposes to exempt specific information from declassification at 75 years, and the proposal is formally approved by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP).

NDC Releasing All We Can, Protecting What We Must

June 2011

Why Declassify?
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 The public has a right to know the actions of our government.  The releases of historical records allow us to learn from the past,

so we don‟t repeat mistakes; and they provide federal agencies the opportunity to tell a more complete good news story.  Declassification is an expensive, time-consuming effort fraught with the potential loss of sensitive strategic or tactical information or capabilities. Human lives can be at stake. Information considered for declassification requires carefully detailed guidance and close analytical scrutiny. It isn‟t just a fact or tidbit of information that is considered for declassification; the age and currency of both the information itself and its context must be considered.  Not everything is equally sensitive.  To fulfill the letter and the spirit of the executive order, no information can or should be classified indefinitely.
NDC Releasing All We Can, Protecting What We Must

June 2011

NDC Process Results 1 January 2010 – 31 May 2011 from series identification to the open shelf
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Quality Check (QART/DOE Audit/ Remediation) Interagency Referral Center

Referrals

111M pp

Withdrawal and Indexing • Classified Documents Withdrawn/Exempted • Withdrawn Documents Indexed and Sent to IRC Records Declassified or Exempted Declassified Records Declassified Records
14.4M pp

Further QA Required No QA Required

Classified Records Subject to review under EO 13526

Evaluation NARA, Originating Agency and DOE

Exempted Records
1.5M pp

Public Release

Records Stored Pending Re-review Date

NDC Releasing All We Can, Protecting What We Must

June 2011

The NDC is not just a “Backlog” Factory
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Coordinating Special Review Collections –  Pentagon Papers  Construction of the Berlin Wall  NATO Archives document review Creating a Library of approved declassification guides for all agencies Providing Reports to the public: In addition to in-house monthly/quarterly reports identifying those collections that are ready for the open stacks, NDC will report this data on the NDC website for public consumption. It will probably serve as subject matter for blog conversations between NDC staff and the public. Providing Equity recognition training and certification for all reviewers Addressing the FOIA/Mandatory Declassification Review backlog via new processes, including automated redaction Evaluating Special Media Review (including review results for agencies) Crafting a process for reviewing electronic records and developing a Classified Electronic Records Archive Performing DOE Restricted Data/Formerly Restricted Data Kyl-Lott Review in a center-wide effort on Navy records and in conjunction with Department of State Information technology: Ongoing work to consolidate IT systems will improve reporting metrics and reduce waste and overlap that exists when every agency created and tracked information in its own way.

 

    

NDC Releasing All We Can, Protecting What We Must

June 2011

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