WASHINGTON -- April 5 -- The federal government set a new record for keeping secrets in 2004, during which government employees chose to classify information a record 15.6 million times, according to new government figures released this week and highlighted today in an update to OpenTheGovernment.org's Secrecy Report Card.
The total number of secrecy decisions is 10 percent higher than the total in 2003. The new data, released by the government's Information Security Oversight Office, show secrecy continued to grow in 2004. For example:
- When given a choice, government employees last year chose to keep their new secrets longer than in years past: Two-thirds (66
percent) of the time government employees chose to keep those new secrets for more than a decade.
- At the same time, the flow of old secrets to the public dropped to its lowest point in nearly a decade - 28 million pages in 2004.
- The government must declassify 260 million pages of existing old secrets by the end of 2006. We calculate that at its current rate the government will complete the job in February 2013, but then will have to contend with what will likely be a bigger pile of secrets it created in the meantime.
"The new data show government secrecy continues to hurt the public's chances of making our families safe," noted Rick Blum, director of the OpenTheGovernment.org coalition.
OpenTheGovernment.org, a broad coalition promoting open government, today updated its Secrecy Report Card to add government data released this week showing the government continued in 2004 to expand secrecy at the expense of greater public access to government
documents and public scrutiny of government decisions. An expanded version of the Secrecy Report Card will be released in summer
The data was released this week by the federal government's Information Security Oversight Office, a part of the National Archives and Records Administration.
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