Report | Sept. 23, 2021

Management Advisory Regarding the Continued Use of Unauthorized “For Official Use Only” Markings and the Ineffective Implementation of the Controlled Unclassified Information Program (Report No. DODIG-2021-135)


The purpose of this memorandum is to inform Department of Defense (DoD) leadership about the continued use of unauthorized “For Official Use Only” (FOUO) markings on new DoD documents, the failure of DoD officials to effectively implement the DoD Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) Program, and the impact of these practices on DoD Office of Inspector General (DoD OIG) oversight operations.

DoD Instruction 5200.48, “Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI),” dated March 6, 2020, establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for CUI throughout the DoD in accordance with Executive Order 13556 and other authorities. The instruction also cancelled prior DoD policy guidance authorizing the use of FOUO as an information protective marking.1 As a result, since March 6, 2020, any new documents, including new documents created with information derived from legacy FOUO materials, must be marked as CUI if the information qualifies as CUI.

Over the past year, DoD Components have not complied with the requirements of DoDI 5200.48 when responding to DoD OIG requests that they review and determine if their FOUO information in DoD OIG reports meets CUI requirements. Often, DoD Components did not provide CUI determinations or information on CUI markings, including applicable registry categories, dissemination controls, and points of contact. This affected our reporting efforts because the DoD OIG generally does not have the independent knowledge to determine if a DoD Component’s source information meets the CUI requirements and how that information should be marked in our reports. As a result, the DoD OIG has issued reports since March of 2020 with FOUO markings in violation of the Executive Order, DoDI 5200.48, and other authorities. We provide examples in the attachment.