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What We Heard and Learned at our June 19th Public Meeting

by on July 8, 2014


20140619-01-017a20140619-01-031aPublic Interest Declassification Board Public MeetingPublic Interest Declassification Board Public Meeting

On behalf of the members of the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB), I want to thank all those who attended and participated in our  public meeting on June 19, 2014.  We wish to thank the Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, and his staff for hosting the meeting at the National Archives and Records Administration.  We also thank the Archivist for opening the event and for his remarks reaffirming the National Archives’ commitment to Open Government by improving access to government information, strengthening public and employee engagement and supporting electronic records modernization. He acknowledged the hard work of dedicated declassification professionals across agencies and how that collaboration continues to build upon the success of the National Declassification Center.

The public meeting was an opportunity for the PIDB and senior leaders in Government to engage with the public and make progress on a long-standing issue of critical importance to transformation: the design of a systematic process to review Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) information for declassification.  Following the Archivist’s remarks, three distinguished Government panelists delivered a presentation on the Formerly Restricted Data Declassification Working Group (FRD-DWG) at the Department of Defense. We would like to thank Mr. Timothy A. Davis from the Department of Defense, Mr. John F. Hackett from the Department of State, and Dr. Andrew Weston-Dawkes from the Department of Energy for their time and their insight into this important topic. Their presentation highlighted Government efforts to respond to one of our recommendations to the President in our Transforming the Security Classification System report and a key commitment in the President’s Second Open Government National Action Plan (NAP). These three agencies are working at length to meet the President’s commitment to developing a systematic declassification process for no-longer sensitive FRD information. We are particularly grateful for the commendable work of our three panelists and their agencies as they work towards developing such a process to be able to declassify no-longer sensitive nuclear information that will shed important light on our Cold War and nuclear weapons history.  Their work has been complex and challenging, as illuminated by their presentation, but we are extremely pleased by the massive efforts they have undertaken so far and look forward to seeing even greater results in the future.

The panelists’ presentation offered encouraging prospects for the declassification of no-longer sensitive FRD declassification, and we were pleased to learn the Department of Defense made this specific project its flagship Open Government initiative for the entire Department.  From the presentations, we learned that the FRD-DWG intends to declassify no-longer sensitive information and will publicize its results on a dedicated webpage (more information can be found on DoD’s Open Government webpage).  We already are seeing real results from efforts of the FRD-DWG.  As the departments develop a systematic process to meet this commitment, we are gratified that the Government is actively responding to the Open Government NAP with enthusiasm and is making this issue a high priority for transformation.  Declassification of no longer sensitive FRD is clearly a topic of interest to historians and the public as well, illustrated by the fact that more than 90 attendees filled the meeting room. As at our past meetings, we welcome and encourage public participation as we work to assist the Government in its efforts at transformation.  We especially encourage the public to use the Department of Energy addresses below to submit declassification proposals for consideration.

The meeting was also an opportunity for us to recognize the outstanding work of Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, who recently completed her third and final term as a member of the PIDB. Elizabeth was an inaugural member of the PIDB, and she actively participated in framing the recommendations of both our 2009 Improving Declassification report and our 2012 Transforming the Security Classification System report. We thank Elizabeth for her passion and advocacy on behalf of the public.

Finally, we would like to thank you, the public, for attending this meeting and for remaining engaged on this very important topic.  As I have stated in the past, the members of the PIDB understand and take our responsibility of representing the public very seriously as we complete our work and respond to the requests made by the President.  We know we would be unable to affect meaningful change without public participation and a willing spirit from the agencies to work collaboratively for the greater good of the people.  We look forward to continuing the dialogue on all issues concerning the transformation of the security classification system, including the declassification of no-longer sensitive FRD, and assisting the President in meeting his Open Government commitments.

You can find more information about the Department of Defense’s Open Government Initiatives related to FRD declassification at:
http://open.defense.gov/Initiatives/FRDDeclassification.aspx

You can submit proposals for declassification of RD or FRD information to:

Associate Under Secretary for Environment, Health, Safety and Security
AU-1/Forrestal Building
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, D.C. 20585

You can submit proposals for systematic document reviews of given collections or subject areas to:

The Director
Office of Classification
AU-60/Germantown Building
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, D.C. 20585


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