NARA and Declassification

ISCAP Appeals Status Log

In the interest of transparency the ISCAP decided in 2014 to post a status log of all of the open mandatory declassification review (MDR) and classification challenge appeals active during the current Presidential administration.This status log is intended for use by both appellants and Federal agencies to determine where their appeals are in the adjudication process.

The information listed in the log is:

  • ISCAP No.: This is the sequential number assigned to each appeal received by the ISCAP. It consists of the fiscal year the appeal was received followed by a three-digit number.
  • Date of Request: This is the date the appeal was received by the ISCAP Staff.
  • Requestor (Last): This is the last name of the requestor.For classification challenges, no name will be posted, only the category, “Classification Challenge.”
  • Source (Library or Agency): This is the agency of origin of the appeal For example, the origin of an MDR appeal for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records at the Kennedy Library is the Kennedy Presidential Library, not CIA.

Status: The status categories are:

  • Materials Requested from Agency
  • Administratively Closed (followed by the fiscal year of the closure).  The reason for the closure is always given in writing to the appellant, but is not included in this log.  Appeals may be administratively closed for the following reasons. 
    • Request insufficiently specific
    • Appeal did not meet the required timelines for eligibility
    • No records located
    • Information under litigation in the Federal courts
    • Records containing the information are properly covered by CIA operations file exemption
    • The information under appeal is denied release under the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act or other appropriate statutory authority
    • Appeal withdrawn by appellant
  • Material Received from Agency
  • Appeal Under Review by the ISCAP
  • Decision Reached (followed by the fiscal year of the decision)

When an appeal has been decided upon, the status entry for that appeal will be linked to the ISCAP decisions website.

Text regarding the prioritization of appeals:

The ISCAP is a Presidential body exercising the highest appellate authority over classification and declassification decisions.  In choosing appeals for discussion and decision, it must balance the rights of appellants to have their appeals heard with the requirement for the ISCAP to make declassification decisions intended for use by all declassification reviewers in the U.S. government.  The ISCAP is committed to resolving old appeals, but the age of the appeal is only one consideration in the selection of appeals for adjudication by the ISCAP.  Other considerations include:

  • Type of appellant: An appeal from a first-time appellant may be prioritized over another appeal from a frequent appellant.
  • Declassification breakthroughs: The ISCAP does weigh the relative importance of the content of the requests; an appeal containing an issue not addressed by the ISCAP before may be prioritized over one containing a topic frequently adjudicated.
  • Size and complexity of appeal:  Short, straightforward appeals may be discussed by the ISCAP in between appeals that are more complicated, in order to maintain a steady flow of decisions.  Some appeals present issues that result in the delay of adjudication, such as appeals that did not undergo a comprehensive review by all equity-holding agencies prior to appeal to the ISCAP, appeals that contain motion picture or audio recordings, appeals that contain hundreds of individual documents, or appeals that contain highly technical or specialized information require the ISCAP to consult with agency specialists before they can make a fully informed decision.
  • Self-prioritization by appellant:  Some appellants inform the ISCAP of their own priorities for their multiple requests; these wishes are taken into account by the ISCAP.
  • Type of appeal:  Classification challenge appeals to the ISCAP are comparatively rare and are prioritized for review when received.