White House Issues Memo on New Controlled Unclassified Information Policy

Last Friday, the White House issued a memorandum on new rules governing the designation and sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). The memo creates a uniform standard for information that previously fell under the broad category of Sensitive But Unclassified information (SBU).

The CUI framework is intended to ease information sharing in the government and rein in the various control markings used by agencies, such as “For Official Use Only” (FOUO), “Official Use Only” (OUO), and “Limited Official Use” (LOU). Under the CUI framework, all CUI information is categorized into one of three combinations of safeguarding procedures and dissemination controls. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is named as the “Executive Agent,” responsible for overseeing and managing implementation of this CUI Framework and prescribing any additional CUI markings.

The memo addresses the important problem of the alphabet soup of Sensitive But Unclassified designations, but many questions remain. Steven Aftergood, author of Secrecy News and Director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, expresses his concerns in his blog. He writes, “Which, if any, of the more than 100 existing control categories will be canceled, rather than absorbed into the new CUI category? The new policy does not say. At what point, if any, does the CUI designation expire? There’s no way to tell. What enforcement mechanisms are established to ensure compliance with the new policy? To be determined.”

On April 11, AALL signed onto a letter to the White House asking for a public review of proposed new rules governing the designation of Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information. Unfortunately, no public review occurred before the White House issued this memo. For background on our letter, see our previous blog post, “AALL and Others Urge Public Comment on Guidance for Sensitive But Unclassified Information.”

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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