Constitution Project Releases Recommendations on Improved Information Sharing and Increased Government Transparency

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or mallee@constitutionproject.org

Constitution Project Releases Recommendations on Improved Information Sharing and Increased Government Transparency

"Reining in Excessive Secrecy" report proposes reform to government classification policies and systems for handling sensitive information

WASHINGTON - The Constitution Project released a report today that highlights the problems with current government policies for identifying and handling classified and sensitive information. "Reining in Excessive Secrecy: Recommendations for Reform of the Classification and Controlled Unclassified Information Systems," offers specific policy reforms that would improve government transparency, as well as ensure protection of both our national security and core constitutional principles.

The report is being provided to the presidential task forces established under President Obama's May 27 memorandum in connection with their 90-day review of the federal government's systems of classification and designation of sensitive information outside the classification sphere, known as controlled unclassified information (CUI). The report is endorsed by over 25 members of the Constitution Project's bipartisan Liberty and Security Committee, which includes former government officials, academics, and relevant experts from across the political spectrum.

The following is an excerpt from "Reining in Excessive Secrecy":

"Over-classification of documents inhibits government transparency while at the same time weakening the classification system...The end result is a flawed exercise that neither permits public accountability nor sufficiently protects national security. Similarly, the present CUI system lacks the standards or procedures necessary for ensuring appropriate designation and minimizing barriers to information sharing both among government bodies and with the public, ultimately compromising the safety of our citizens."

The following can be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Senior Counsel of the Constitution Project:

"The Inspector Generals' report on the President's Surveillance Program, released last week, clearly demonstrated how 'extraordinary and inappropriate secrecy' damages individual liberties and the country's safety. The government's information labeling practices are no different. Over-classification and unnecessary control markings have damaged national security, hindered government accountability, and ultimately weakened our constitutional system of checks and balances. Rather than facilitating openness and sharing, current policies have restricted legitimate public and government access to information.

"President Obama must adopt significant reforms in order to fulfill his promise of an 'unprecedented' level of government transparency. The Constitution Project applauds this goal and offers comprehensive, urgently-needed changes to both the classification and controlled information systems. Without uniform standards in place and mechanisms to ensure accountability, excessive and damaging government secrecy will persist."

To see the full text of the report, go to:
http://www.constitutionproject.org/manage/file/178.pdf

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The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at http://constitutionproject.org/.

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