The National Archives has proposed a rule to address the problem of controlled unclassified information (CUI). CUI are government records that don't meet the level of security needed for classified information, but are nonetheless restricted from general access. There are no government-wide rules to deal with how this material is handled and there are more than 100 different markings federal agencies use to categorize this information.
Here is a link to a story that Lee White, Executive Director of the National Coalition for History, recently posted on the NCH website about the issue. This story includes a link to an analysis by Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News that describes the problem.
Aftergood notes that:
-The proposed legislation will limit the autonomy of particular government agencies.
-It will provide a way "of validating agency information control practices pertaining to unclassified information. (A comparable procedure for externally validating agency classification practices does not exist.) But CUI status itself is not intended to become an additional barrier to disclosure."
-A statutory restriction that justifies designating information as CUI would also likely make it exempt from release under FOIA.
-The removal of CUI controls does not imply public release.
If you have comments on this proposed legislation, you may register them by July 7 by following the instructions for submitting comments via the federal register:
The National Coalition for History is currently deciding whether to sign on to letter with other pro-transparency groups or to issue an independent statement. If you think that historians have a unique perspective that would merit an independent statement, please contact Kristin Hoganson (the SHAFR representative to the National Coalition for History, [email protected]) as soon as possible so she can relay your views to the National Coalition for History. If the National Coalition for History issues its own statement, it would need to do so by the July 7 deadline for public comments.