NARA and Declassification

Minutes 09/27/08

Public Interest Declassification Board

The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) held its seventeenth meeting on Saturday, September 27, 2008, in the Archivist’s Reception Room at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. Martin Faga, Acting Chairman of the PIDB, chaired the meeting. Board Members present were Ronald Radosh, Sanford Ungar, Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, David E. Skaggs, and Admiral William O. Studeman. Also present: William J. Bosanko, Director, Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), serving as Executive Secretary for the PIDB; William C. Carpenter, John Powers, Christopher O. Hofius, Meredith Stewart and Julie Agurkis, ISOO, serving as the PIDB staff.

I. Welcome and Opening Remarks

The Chair called the meeting to order at 9:37 a.m. The Chair introduced Paul J. Wester, Director of Modern Records Program (NWM) at the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) Office of Records Services, Washington, D.C. Mr. Wester was accompanied by Lisa Roberson of NARA’s Life Cycle Management Division (NWML).

II. Records Management at Federal Agencies

Mr. Wester’s presentation highlighted the overall responsibilities of NWM as well as Government-wide records management procedures for traditional records and electronic records. The Chair asked Mr. Wester about the accessioning of electronic records and Mr. Wester explained that his office currently provides policy guidance for handling the accessioning of electronic records and noted that NARA’s Electronic Records Archive (ERA) is the long-term strategy for preserving electronic records.

Mr. Wester explained that the records retention period and final disposition—either temporary or permanent—of all Federal records is determined by a records schedule. NARA assists Federal agencies in the creation of records schedules, which must be approved by the Archivist of the United States. Mr. Wester stated that records management has three primary goals:

  • to support business needs of the creating agency by helping agencies manage their records so that they can be used to support that agency’s missions;
  • to support citizens’ rights; and
  • to identify records that will be accessioned and preserved at NARA.

Mr. Wester also spoke about the legislative authorities that support records management, specifically the Federal Records Act. The Act gives NARA the responsibility for promulgating guidance to Federal agencies and gives Federal agencies the responsibility for establishing their own records management programs. NWL is responsible for assisting Federal agencies through guidance and by giving agencies disposition authority for records.

III. Records Scheduling and Appraisal Processes

The Chair welcomed Lisa Roberson, Senior Records Analyst with Life Cycle Management Division (NWML) of the Modern Records Program, and thanked her for participating in the meeting. Her presentation focused on scheduling and appraisal of records. Her presentation was titled, “Strategic Directions and the Scheduling and Appraisal Process.”

Ms. Roberson explained the appraisal process for evaluating records for permanent retention at NARA. Records managers look at the evidential value of records in documenting agency decisions as well as the informational value of records to researchers. She noted that records managers take future researcher interests into account when they are evaluating records.

Following the presentation, discussion touched on topics such as the types of documents most requested by researchers, how agency historians interact in the record appraisal process, the authority and process of disposition at NARA, electronic records management, and the Presidential Records Act.

IV. Designation and Sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information

The Executive Secretary, William J. Bosanko, in his capacity as the Director of NARA’s Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) Office, introduced the new CUI Framework as defined in the President’s May 9, 2008, Memorandum. This memorandum adopts, defines, and institutes CUI as the single categorical designation for all information previously referred to as “Sensitive But Unclassified” (SBU) in the Information Sharing Environment (ISE). The memorandum establishes a corresponding CUI Framework for designating, marking, safeguarding, and disseminating information designated as CUI. Additionally, the memorandum designates NARA as the Executive Agent, overseeing and implementing the new CUI Framework.

Mr. Bosanko explained that the CUI Framework is necessary because current SBU information is shared according to an ungoverned body of policies and practices, including at least 107 unique markings and over 130 different labeling or handling processes or procedures. Mr. Bosanko explained that some departments and agencies intend to leverage the CUI Framework for all SBU, to include information beyond terrorism-related information in the ISE.

Following the presentation, the discussion included such topics as: the impact of CUI on SBU; re-marking of “legacy” material; the process for specified dissemination instructions; NARA’s CUI oversight responsibilities; CUI and the FOIA process; concerns of public interest groups; “de-control” of CUI; and marking of CUI beginning in 2011. The Chair thanked Mr. Bosanko for his presentation.

The Chair thanked Mr. Steven Garfinkel and Mr. L. Britt Snider for their significant contributions as members of the Public Interest Declassification Board.

VII. Open Forum and Adjournment

The Chair invited the public for comment. James David thanked the Board for their presentation and invitation. The meeting concluded at 11:31 a.m.