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Press Release
March 6, 2006

National Archives Hosts Summit with Federal Agencies to Discuss Re-review of Documents

Washington, DC…Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein hosted a meeting with Federal agency officials today to discuss issues related to the withdrawal of documents from the open shelves at the National Archives and Records Administration.

In his opening remarks, Professor Weinstein thanked the agencies for cooperating with the moratorium."I place a very high value on maintaining public credibility, trust and respect, which must be earned and cannot be finessed by protecting documents from release," he said.

In the hour-long meeting, Professor Weinstein and J. William Leonard, Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, (ISOO), a part of the National Archives, stressed the following points:

  • The commitment of the National Archives to maintain a balanced approach, by acknowledging the importance of protecting national security and at the same time recognizing the public interest in having archival records available;

  • The commitment of the National Archives to continue to work cooperatively with the agencies, while urging the agencies to move swiftly on returning documents back to the open shelves, when appropriate;

  •  The need to establish a protocol and standards for the review of documents that agencies feel have been incorrectly placed on the open shelves;

  • The proposal to create a National Declassification Initiative which could replace an agency-centric approach to declassification.  This proposed pilot program would address the bureaucratic structure, resources and policies needed to create a centralized declassification program coordinated by the National Archives, using pooled resources.

For their part, the Federal agencies thanked the Archivist for hosting the meeting and taking a leadership role. They unanimously agreed to support the moratorium on identifying for withdrawal any new material that is currently on the open shelves at the National Archives.  They also agreed to work towards creating new procedures for the review of materials and were supportive of the concept of a National Declassification Initiative.  Many agencies, however, acknowledged the challenge of meeting the December deadline for declassification of documents, in accordance with Executive Order 12958, as amended and devoting resources to reexamining the previously withdrawn documents.

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.

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