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Report | Sept. 30, 2013

DoD Evaluation of Over-Classification of National Security Information (Redacted)


What We Did

This is the first of two reports that Public Law 111-258, Section 6(b) requires, mandating Inspectors General of Federal departments, or agencies with an officer or employee who is authorized to make original classifications, to: (A) assess whether applicable classification policies, procedures, rules, or regulations have been adopted, followed, and effectively administered; and (B) identify policies, procedures, rules, regulations, or management practices that may be contributing to persistent misclassification of material. In this report, we address eight areas associated with classification management and control marking programs. For the second report due under Public Law 111-258 on September 30, 2016, we will focus on follow-up efforts to recommendations outlined in this report.

What We Found

We found that applicable classification policies, procedures, rules, and regulations have been adopted; however, in some circumstances, they had not been followed or effectively administered.

We also concluded that some policies, procedures, rules, regulations or management practices may be contributing to persistent misclassification of material. While we did find some instances of over-classification, we do not believe that those instances concealed violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; prevented embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency; restrained competition; or prevented or delayed the release of information not requiring protection in the interest of national security. However, we did find several instances where the inaccurate use of dissemination control and handling markings could unnecessarily restrict information sharing.

Many of the issues we found were similarly reflected in organizational selfassessments and fundamental classification guidance review results, demonstrating that DoD is aware of weaknesses and is striving to improve. The most common discrepancy was incorrect marking of documents. Many of our interviewees commented on the availability and robustness of training.

While room for improvement still exists, DoD continues to make advances in program management, reporting costs, reporting of security classification activities, and in advancing policies that will help constrain overclassification.

What We Recommend

We recommend that the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics carry out the recommendations outlined in this report and continue to leverage the new Defense Security Enterprise, especially with regard to ensuring that Original Classification Authorities are fully engaged and accountable.

Management Comments and Our Response

Both the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics concurred with the recommendations; however, management did not provide information to identify what actions will be taken and the date on which recommendations will be completed. Therefore, we request additional comments. Please see the recommendations table on the back of this page.

This report is a result of Project No. D2013-DINT01-0016.000.