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Press Release: Information Security Oversight Office Issues Report to the President

Washington, D.C. . . The recently-released Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) Report to the President for 1998 is now available. The Report profiles data about the government-wide security classification program for Fiscal Year 1998. In his transmittal letter to the President, ISOO Director Steven Garfinkel notes:

In the third year of implementation of Executive Order 12958, the executive branch can again report achievements in the President's security classification program. Specifically, the program enjoyed a third straight year of unprecedented achievements in declassification and noted another decrease in the number of original classifiers. In the declassification program, agencies of the executive branch reported declassifying over 193 million pages of records having permanent historical value. Combined with the figures reported for the first two years of the Order's implementation, the executive branch has declassified almost 600 million pages of records under this Order. This achievement is exceptional. In three years under your Executive order, the agencies have declassified 131 percent more pages than in the prior 16 years combined.

In addition to the data regarding declassification, highlights of the Report also include:

I.    Data on the number of authorized classifiers: The Report notes that the number of authorized original classifiers throughout the executive branch declined to 3,903, the lowest number of classifiers ever reported by ISOO.

II.    Data on the number of new classification decisions: The Report notes that the total of all classification actions reported for fiscal year 1998 increased by 12% to 7,294,768. In his letter to the President, the ISOO Director states: The increase appears to be a function of increased military, intelligence and foreign relations activities, and reporting of electronic transmissions like e-mail, rather than actual increases in classified programs.

III.    Data on the estimated costs of the classification program: The Report notes that the total estimated costs of the security classification increased by 22% for FY 1998. Industry, after reporting a dramatic decrease in its security cost estimates for FY 1997, reported a significant increase in fiscal year 1998. This largely contributed to the increase in the total cost estimate for both Government and industry. Approximately half of the total costs estimated in the security classification program are attributed to the purchase and maintenance of secure automated information systems.

IV.    Data on the actions of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP): The Report repeats the text of the ISCAP's recently released, "Highlights of Activities," and reproduces interesting excerpts from some of the historically valuable documents declassified by the ISCAP.

V.    Data on the Department of the Army's actions to create a successful declassification program: The Report includes a special section on how, with nothing in place to build on, the Department of the Army has created an exemplary declassification program.

Established in 1978, ISOO is responsible to the President for overseeing the government-wide security classification program, and receives policy and program guidance from the National Security Council. ISOO has been a component of the National Archives and Records Administration since 1995.

Free copies of the ISOO Report to the President are available in Room 100, National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. The public or press may also contact ISOO at (202) 219-5250, Fax ( 202) 219-5385, or e-mail, isoo@nara.gov.

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