Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)

CUI Registry

CUI Glossary




Agency (also Federal agency, executive agency, executive branch agency) is any “executive agency” as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105; the United States Postal Service; and any other independent entity within the executive branch that designates or handles CUI.

Agency CUI policies are the policies the agency enacts to implement the CUI Program within the agency. They must be in accordance with Executive Order 13556, 32 CFR Part 2002, and the CUI Registry and approved by the CUI EA.

Agreements and Arrangements are any vehicle that sets out specific CUI handling requirements for contractors and other information-sharing partners when the arrangement with the other party involves CUI. Agreements and arrangements include, but are not limited to, contracts, grants, licenses, certificates, memoranda of agreement/arrangement or understanding, and information-sharing agreements or arrangements. When disseminating or sharing CUI with non-executive branch entities, agencies should enter into written agreements or arrangements that include CUI provisions whenever feasible (see 32 CFR 2002.16(a)(5) and 32 CFR 2002.16(a)(6) for details). When sharing information with foreign entities, agencies should enter agreements or arrangements when feasible (see 32 CFR 2002.16(a)(5)(iii) and 32 CFR 2002.16(a)(6) for details).

Authorized holder is an individual, agency, organization, or group of users that is permitted to designate or handle CUI, in accordance with 32 CFR Part 2002.





Classified Information is information that Executive Order 13526, “Classified National Security Information,” December 29, 2009 (3 CFR, 2010 Comp., p. 298), or any predecessor or successor order, or the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, requires agencies to mark with classified markings and protect against unauthorized disclosure.

Control Level is a general term that indicates the safeguarding and disseminating requirements associated with CUI Basic and CUI Specified.

Controlled Environment is any area or space an authorized holder deems to have adequate physical or procedural controls (e.g., barriers or managed access controls) to protect CUI from unauthorized access or disclosure.

Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) is information the Government creates or possesses, or that an entity creates or possesses for or on behalf of the Government, that a law, regulation, or Government-wide policy requires or permits an agency to handle using safeguarding or dissemination controls. However, CUI does not include classified information (see definition above) or information a non-executive branch entity possesses and maintains in its own systems that did not come from, or was not created or possessed by or for, an executive branch agency or an entity acting for an agency. Law, regulation, or Government-wide policy may require or permit safeguarding or dissemination controls in three ways: Requiring or permitting agencies to control or protect the information but providing no specific controls, which makes the information CUI Basic; requiring or permitting agencies to control or protect the information and providing specific controls for doing so, which makes the information CUI Specified; or requiring or permitting agencies to control the information and specifying only some of those controls, which makes the information CUI Specified, but with CUI Basic controls where the authority does not specify.

Controls are safeguarding or dissemination controls that a law, regulation, or Government-wide policy requires or permits agencies to use when handling CUI. The authority may specify the controls it requires or permits the agency to apply, or the authority may generally require or permit agencies to control the information (in which case, the agency applies the controls from Executive Order 13556, 32 CFR Part 2002, and the CUI Registry).

CUI Basic is the subset of CUI for which the authorizing law, regulation, or Government-wide policy does not set out specific handling or dissemination controls. Agencies handle CUI Basic according to the uniform set of controls set forth in this part and the CUI Registry. CUI Basic differs from CUI Specified (see definition for CUI Specified), and CUI Basic controls apply whenever CUI Specified ones do not cover the involved CUI.

CUI categories and subcategories are those types of information for which laws, regulations, or Government-wide policies require or permit agencies to exercise safeguarding or dissemination controls, and which the CUI Executive Agent has approved and listed in the CUI Registry. The controls for any CUI Basic categories and any CUI Basic subcategories are the same, but the controls for CUI Specified categories and subcategories can differ from CUI Basic ones and from each other. A CUI category may be Specified, while some or all of its subcategories may not be, and vice versa. If dealing with CUI that falls into a CUI Specified category or subcategory, review the controls for that category or subcategory on the CUI Registry. Also consult the agency’s CUI policy for specific direction from the Senior Agency Official.

CUI category or subcategory markings are the markings approved by the CUI Executive Agent for the categories and subcategories listed in the CUI Registry.

CUI Executive Agent (EA) is the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which implements the executive branch-wide CUI Program and oversees Federal agency actions to comply with Executive Order 13556. NARA has delegated this authority to the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO).

CUI Program is the executive branch-wide program to standardize CUI handling by all Federal agencies. The Program includes the rules, organization, and procedures for CUI, established by Executive Order 13556, 32 CFR Part 2002, and the CUI Registry.

CUI Program Manager is an agency official, designated by the agency head or CUI Senior Agency Official, to serve as the official representative to the CUI Executive Agent on the agency’s day-to-day CUI Program operations, both within the agency and in interagency contexts.

CUI Registry is the online repository for all information, guidance, policy, and requirements on handling CUI, including everything issued by the CUI Executive Agent other than 32 CFR Part 2002. Among other information, the CUI Registry identifies all approved CUI categories and subcategories, provides general descriptions for each, identifies the basis for controls, establishes markings, and includes guidance on handling procedures.

CUI Senior Agency Official (SAO) is a senior official designated in writing by an agency head and responsible to that agency head for implementation of the CUI Program within that agency. The CUI Senior Agency Official is the primary point of contact for official correspondence, accountability reporting, and other matters of record between the agency and the CUI Executive Agent.

CUI Specified is the subset of CUI in which the authorizing law, regulation, or Government-wide policy contains specific handling controls that it requires or permits agencies to use that differ from those for CUI Basic. The CUI Registry indicates which laws, regulations, and Government-wide policies include such specific requirements. CUI Specified controls may be more stringent than, or may simply differ from, those required by CUI Basic; the distinction is that the underlying authority spells out the controls for CUI Specified information and does not for CUI Basic information. CUI Basic controls apply to those aspects of CUI Specified where the authorizing laws, regulations, and Government-wide policies do not provide specific guidance.



Decontrolling occurs when an authorized holder, consistent with 32 CFR Part 2002 and the CUI Registry, removes safeguarding or dissemination controls from CUI that no longer requires such controls. Decontrol may occur automatically or through agency action. See 32 CFR 2002.18.

Designating CUI occurs when an authorized holder, consistent with 32 CFR Part 2002 and the CUI Registry, determines that a specific item of information falls into a CUI category or subcategory. The authorized holder who designates the CUI must make recipients aware of the information’s CUI status in accordance with 32 CFR Part 2002.

Designating agency is the executive branch agency that designates or approves the designation of a specific item of information as CUI.

Disseminating occurs when authorized holders provide access, transmit, or transfer CUI to other authorized holders through any means, whether internal or external to the agency.

Document means any tangible thing which constitutes or contains information, and means the original and any copies (whether different from the originals because of notes made on such copies or otherwise) of all writings of every kind and description over which an agency has authority, whether inscribed by hand or by mechanical, facsimile, electronic, magnetic, microfilm, photographic, or other means, as well as phonic or visual reproductions or oral statements, conversations, or events, and including, but not limited to: Correspondence, email, notes, reports, papers, files, manuals, books, pamphlets, periodicals, letters, memoranda, notations, messages, telegrams, cables, facsimiles, records, studies, working papers, accounting papers, contracts, licenses, certificates, grants, agreements, computer disks, computer tapes, telephone logs, computer mail, computer printouts, worksheets, sent or received communications of any kind, teletype messages, agreements, diary entries, calendars and journals, printouts, drafts, tables, compilations, tabulations, recommendations, accounts, work papers, summaries, address books, other records and recordings or transcriptions of conferences, meetings, visits, interviews, discussions, or telephone conversations, charts, graphs, indexes, tapes, minutes, contracts, leases, invoices, records of purchase or sale correspondence, electronic or other transcription of taping of personal conversations or conferences, and any written, printed, typed, punched, taped, filmed, or graphic matter however produced or reproduced. Document also includes the file, folder, exhibits, and containers, the labels on them, and any metadata, associated with each original or copy. Document also includes voice records, film, tapes, video tapes, email, personal computer files, electronic matter, and other data compilations from which information can be obtained, including materials used in data processing.





Federal Information System is an information system used or operated by an agency or by a contractor of an agency or other organization on behalf of an agency (44 U.S.C. 3554(a)(1)(A)(ii)).

Foreign Entity is a foreign government, an international organization of governments or any element thereof, an international or foreign public or judicial body, or an international or foreign private or non-governmental organization.

Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) is a type of information classified under the Atomic Energy Act, and defined in 10 CFR 1045, Nuclear Classification and Declassification.





Handling is any use of CUI, including but not limited to marking, safeguarding, transporting, disseminating, re-using, and disposing of the information.









Lawful Government Purpose is any activity, mission, function, operation, or endeavor that the U.S. Government authorizes or recognizes within the scope of its legal authorities or the legal authorities of non-executive branch entities (such as state and local law enforcement).

Legacy Material is unclassified information that an agency marked as restricted from access or dissemination in some way, or otherwise controlled, prior to the CUI Program.

Limited Dissemination Control is any CUI Executive Agent-approved control that agencies may use to limit or specify CUI dissemination.



Misuse of CUI occurs when someone uses CUI in a manner not in accordance with the policy contained in Executive Order 13556, 32 CFR Part 2002, the CUI Registry, agency CUI policy, or the applicable laws, regulations, and Government-wide policies that govern the affected information. This may include intentional violations or unintentional errors in safeguarding or disseminating CUI. This may also include designating or marking information as CUI when it does not qualify as CUI.



National Security System is a special type of information system (including telecommunications systems) whose function, operation, or use is defined in National Security Directive 42 and 44 U.S.C. 3542(b)(2).

Non-executive branch entity is a person or organization established, operated, and controlled by individual(s) acting outside the scope of any official capacity as officers, employees, or agents of the executive branch of the Federal Government. Such entities may include: Elements of the legislative or judicial branches of the Federal Government; state, interstate, tribal, or local government elements; and private organizations. Non-executive branch entity does not include foreign entities as defined in 32 CFR Part 2002, nor does it include individuals or organizations when they receive CUI information pursuant to federal disclosure laws, including the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act of 1974.



On behalf of an agency occurs when a non-executive branch entity uses or operates an information system or maintains or collects information for the purpose of processing, storing, or transmitting Federal information, and those activities are not incidental to providing a service or product to the Government.

Order is Executive Order 13556, Controlled Unclassified Information, November 4, 2010 (3 CFR, 2011 Comp., p. 267), or any successor order.



Portion is ordinarily a section within a document, and may include subjects, titles, graphics, tables, charts, bullet statements, sub-paragraphs, bullets points, or other sections.

Protection includes all controls an agency applies or must apply when handling information that qualifies as CUI.

Public Release occurs when the agency that originally designated particular information as CUI makes that information available to the public through the agency's official public release processes. Disseminating CUI to non-executive branch entities as authorized does not constitute public release. Releasing information to an individual pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974 or disclosing it in response to a FOIA request also does not automatically constitute public release, although it may if that agency ties such actions to its official public release processes. Even though there may be circumstances in which an agency may be required to disclose CUI to a member of the public, the Government must still control the CUI it holds unless it publicly releases it through its official public release processes.





Records are agency records and Presidential papers or Presidential records (or Vice-Presidential), as those terms are defined in 44 U.S.C. 3301 and 44 U.S.C. 2201 and 2207. Records also include such items created or maintained by a Government contractor, licensee, certificate holder, or grantee that are subject to the sponsoring agency’s control under the terms of the entity's agreement with the agency.

Required or permitted (by a law, regulation, or Government-wide policy) is the basis by which information may qualify as CUI. If a law, regulation, or Government-wide policy requires that agencies exercise safeguarding or dissemination controls over certain information, or specifically permits agencies the discretion to do so, then that information qualifies as CUI. The term 'specifically permits' in this context can include language such as "is exempt from" applying certain information release or disclosure requirements, "may" release or disclose the information, "may not be required to" release or disclose the information, “is responsible for protecting” the information, and similar specific but indirect, forms of granting the agency discretion regarding safeguarding or dissemination controls. This does not include general agency or agency head authority and discretion to make decisions, risk assessments, or other broad agency authorities, discretions, and powers, regardless of the source. The CUI Registry reflects all appropriate authorizing authorities.

Restricted Data (RD) is a type of information classified under the Atomic Energy Act, defined in 10 CFR 1045, Nuclear Classification and Declassification.

Re-use means incorporating, restating, or paraphrasing CUI from its originally designated form into a newly created document.



Self-inspection is an agency’s internally managed review and evaluation of its activities to implement the CUI Program.





Unauthorized Disclosure occurs when an authorized holder of CUI intentionally or unintentionally discloses CUI without a lawful Government purpose, in violation of restrictions imposed by safeguarding or dissemination controls, or contrary to limited dissemination controls.

Uncontrolled unclassified Information is information that neither Executive Order 13556 nor classified information authorities cover as protected. Although this information is not controlled or classified, agencies must still handle it in accordance with Federal Information Security Modernization Act (FISMA) requirements.





Working Papers are documents or materials, regardless of form, that an agency or user expects to revise prior to creating a finished product.