Press/Journalists

Press Release
July 25, 2011

National Declassification Center Issues Third Report

Report highlights processing of nearly 9 million pages of material from January-June 2011

Washington, DC…The National Archives National Declassification Center (NDC) has issued its third biannual Report on Operations of the National Declassification Center, covering the period of January 1, 2011 – June 30, 2011. The report is online [www.archives.gov/declassification/reports/]. During the last six months, this collaborative inter-agency effort has evaluated for quality review and declassification nearly 59 million pages, only 1 million pages less than was evaluated for all of 2010. NDC status reports are issued biannually in July and January, and cover the preceding six-months, focusing on events and activities, interagency cooperation, and the NDC’s progress on the records processing backlog.

Since the establishment of the NDC in January 2010, processing has been fully completed for 18 million pages; 16.6 million of these pages have been made available to the public. This is a 92% release rate, with only 8% requiring continued exemption for sensitivity.

“The National Declassification Center epitomizes Open Government,” said NDC Director Sheryl J. Shenberger. Working with other agencies to streamline the declassification process, we are expanding the world of access, and making more records available for public scrutiny much more quickly. This work is a service both to our government and the public.”

Since its inception, through new processes, inter-agency cooperation, and data gathering analysis, the NDC has evaluated 30% of the back log, and facilitated prioritized review and release for two special collections. The NDC continues to work with agency partners to address the page-level review required for many of the remaining documents.

The NDC was established by Executive Order 13526, “Classified National Security Information,” under the direction of the Archivist of the United States, to coordinate the timely and appropriate processing of referrals of 25-year old and older classified records of permanent historical value. The December 29, 2009, Presidential Memorandum accompanying E.O. 13526 specified a December 31, 2013, deadline for making available to the public the declassified records within the approximately 400 million pages currently back logged (that is, currently accessioned but not yet fully processed for release to the public) at the National Archives and under NDC purview.

Report highlights:

In the last six months, the NDC:

  • Completed the declassification and release of the Pentagon Papers in time for the 40th anniversary on June 13, 2011. This release marks the first authorized availability of the complete report to the Vietnam taskforce. These materials are online [www.archives.gov/research/pentagon-papers/].

  • Released the oldest classified documents in the Federal government held at the National Archives. Released in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in April, these World War I-era documents detail formulas for and use of secret writing, and are online [www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2011/nr11-148.html].

  • Continued declassification review and processing of information relating to the Berlin Wall construction (50th anniversary). A seminar on these records is planned for October 27, 2011, at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

  • Coordinated with the Presidential Libraries to prioritize 1,364,471 pages within certain collections of the Truman through Carter Administrations, as well as the China-associated materials within the Kissinger Personal Paper Collection, for completion of referral review. As of June 30, 2011, equity-holding agencies had completed review on over half of those pages.

  • Established the Information Technology Working Group, headed by officers from the Missile Defense Agency and the US Air Force Declassification Programs, to encourage inter-agency examination of uses of newer technology.

  • Worked to pinpoint potential chokepoints in the review processes, report more accurate production statistics, and streamline data capture efforts.

  • Formulated a new policy for more efficiently moving records from classified to declassified stacks in order to speed their availability to the public.

  • Implemented a new process for interagency declassification review and processing of special media and electronic records, including coordinating and facilitating special media original reviews due December 31, 2011.

  • Implemented several new work processes, including digitization, for requests under the Freedom of Information Act and the Mandatory Declassification Review provisions of E.O. 13526 for classified Federal records to provide for more timely responses to public requests.

NDC goals include:

  • Properly identifying all records within the back log, segregating those that remain sensitive for national security concerns, and making the remaining records available to the public in as efficient and timely a manner as possible.

  • Providing special releases of specific historical records within the back log based on requestor interest and demand.

  • Providing declassified historical documents in a timelier manner by tracking all records from accessioning to their final availability in order to facilitate referral review for declassification and release. NDC continues to work with a contractor to develop a new IT system design to support improved NDC processes, improved data collection, and integration to facilitate referral review for declassification and release.

Updated information on new records releases and other NDC initiatives is online on the NDC web site [www.archives.gov/declassification/]. Public input, questions and comments are welcome, and can be sent to NDC@nara.gov or the NDC Blog [http://blogs.archives.gov/ndc/]. Also, see information on upcoming forums and NDC initiatives [www.archives.gov/declassification/].

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

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