Repairing the Broken Declassification System

Repairing The Broken Declassification System

( – The United States government spends more than $18 billion annually to maintain its classification systems. The problem is, it’s paying for an inefficient apparatus that denies Americans the right to look at some materials officials should’ve already declassified. Fortunately, there’s a way to fix the broken system.

In the fall of 2020, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) published an op-ed in Just Security entitled, “Time to Fix a Broken Declassification System.” The senators proposed a number of solutions to ensure the records are declassified on time.

Their proposals include:

  • Tagging records so officials can identify them easily and declassify them on time;
  • Connecting agencies electronically so material that involves multiple agencies can be released electronically rather than using human couriers; and
  • Allowing the director of National Intelligence to oversee reforms to the system.

The lawmakers believe taking just a few steps will “eliminate years of backlog” and solve a problem that’s plagued the government for years.

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