NARA report calls for streamlining of classified records management

The federal government needs to apply a more integrated approach to declassifying records, a new report from the National Archives and Records Administration recommends.

'We need to streamline the multiple, inefficient and, at times, ineffective independent agency reviews of the same material,' according to the report, which was published by NARA's Information Security Oversight Office.

The office found that the level of reported classifications in fiscal 2005 decreased by 1.4 million in comparison to fiscal 2004 and is the first decrease observed since fiscal 2001. Even so, there are still increasing numbers of documents being classified, primarily for counterterrorism activities and critical infrastructure protection, at the Homeland Security and Justice departments.

The total number of classifications dropped to 14.2 million in fiscal 2005, a decrease from 15.6 million the year before. That reversed an upward trend that had been occurring since 2001, with 8.7 million classifications that year. In 2002 there were 11.3 million, in 2003 14.2 million, and in 2004 15.6 million.

Declassifications rose slightly to 29.5 million in fiscal 2005, up from 28 million in fiscal 2004. The general recent trend has been downward, however, with 100 million declassifications reported in 2001; 44 million in 2002; and 43 million in 2003.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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