NARA and Declassification

Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel

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The Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel provides the public and users of the classification system with a forum for further review of classification decisions.

The protection of the national security requires that some of the work of the U.S. Government be done outside the purview of its citizenry. In order to ensure an informed public while simultaneously protecting certain information, checks and balances are needed over the classification system.



The Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, or "ISCAP," was created under Executive Order 12958, "Classified National Security Information," when it was signed on April 17, 1995. Today the ISCAP receives its guidelines from Executive Order 13526. The ISCAP held its first meeting in May 1996 and has met regularly since that time.


Section 5.3 of E.O. 13526, directs the ISCAP to perform four critical functions:

  1. Classification Challenges: deciding on appeals by authorized persons who have filed classification challenges under Section 1.8 of E.O. 13526;
  2. Exemptions from Automatic Declassification: approving, denying or amending agency exemptions from automatic declassification, as provided in Section 3.3 of E.O. 13526; and File Series Exemptions: deciding on agency requests to exempt a designated file series from automatic declassification at 25 years.
  3. Mandatory Declassification Review Appeals: deciding on mandatory declassification review appeals by parties whose requests for declassification under Section 3.5 of E.O. 13526, have been denied at the agency level.
  4. Inform Decisions: appropriately inform senior agency officials and the public of final Panel decisions on appeals under Sections 1.8 and 3.5 of E.O. 13526.


The ISCAP member body consists of senior level representatives appointed by the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice, the National Archives, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Security Advisor. Each shall be represented by a senior-level representative who is a full-time or permanent part-time Federal officer or employee designated to serve as a member of the Panel by the respective agency head. The President shall designate a Chair from among the members of the Panel. The Director of ISOO serves as its Executive Secretary, and ISOO staff provides program and administrative support for the panel. The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency may appoint a temporary representative to participate as a voting member in all Panel deliberations and associated support activities concerning classified information originated by the Central Intelligence Agency.