August 8, 2013
National Declassification Center Issues Seventh Report
Report highlights steady progress toward deadline goal
Washington, DC…The National Archives National Declassification Center (NDC) has issued its seventh biannual Report on Operations of the National Declassification Center, covering January 1 through June 30, 2013. The report is online [www.archives.gov/declassification/ndc/reports].
Since its inception in January, 2010, the NDC has assessed the 357-million-page classified records backlog at the National Archives and completed equity referral quality assurance on 278 million pages. The NDC has completed all processing of more than 118 million pages of this backlog.
In our last report, NDC Director Sheryl J. Shenberger noted the completion of the first measurable stage in the NDC process, that of assessment. The next and most significant step is the quality assurance evaluation for national security information. Directed by Executive Order 13526 to facilitate quality assurance measures, the center has implemented an inter-agency process of risk management to ensure records are reviewed properly prior to public access. The quality assurance assessment ensures that the records containing still-sensitive information are properly withheld and that those appropriate for release are indeed declassified.
Nearly 80% of the backlog records have successfully passed this step.
“National Archives staff and our agency partners have completed the quality assurance review for national security information on some 278 million pages. Through expedited processes and inter-agency cooperation, the NDC believes it is on track to complete the quality assurance for declassification on the remaining 79 million pages by the 31 December deadline,” noted Shenberger.
“This progress was achieved in spite of the inconsistencies of earlier reviews; the problematic referral markings; the unexpected impact of absent page-level review for Restricted Data/Formerly Restricted Data; and preservation emergencies, such as mold and brittle records remediation,” she added.
The NDC was established by Executive Order 13526, “Classified National Security Information,” under the direction of the Archivist of the United States, to coordinate timely and appropriate processing of referrals of 25-year old and older classified records of permanent historical value. The December 29, 2009, Presidential Memorandum accompanying Executive Order 13526 specified a December 31, 2013, deadline for addressing referrals and quality assurance problems to permit public access to declassified records within the backlog.
In the last six months, the National Declassification Center:
- Continued the declassification review and processing of information relating to life in the shadows of the Berlin Wall (for the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s summer 1963 visit to Berlin). Approximately 200,000 pages, photos, audio, and video are being released. A release event is being planned related to the opening of these records on October 16, 2013 at the National Archives building in Washington, DC.
- Prioritized the processing and declassification of almost two million classified pages from Presidents Truman through Carter Administrations in coordination with National Archives Presidential Libraries.
- At the request of the Nixon Presidential Library, worked a special project with nine different agencies to facilitate declassification review of the withdrawn segments from the Haldeman diaries. The majority of this material was declassified and is currently being processed by the Nixon Presidential Library for release.
- Continued to improve and streamline NDC’s data capture and analysis. The NDC Metrics Team provides end-to-end tracking for all NDC operations, identifying chokepoints in NDC processes and providing improved production statistics.
Ongoing NDC goals include:
- Finishing the quality assurance within the backlog, segregating those that remain sensitive for national security concerns, and making the remaining records publicly available as soon as possible.
- Providing special releases of specific historical records within the backlog based on requestor interest and demand.
- Providing declassified historical documents in a more timely manner by tracking all records from accessioning to their final availability.
Updated information on NDC records releases and initiatives is online at the NDC website [www.archives.gov/declassification/ndc]. Public input, questions and comments are welcome, and can be sent to NDC@nara.gov or the NDC Blog.
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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.