Congress Passes Harman Bill to Reduce Overclassification

Earlier this week, the House and Senate voted to approve the Reducing Over-Classification Act (H.R. 553), introduced in January 2009 by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA-36) and amended by Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-CT). The bill, as amended, includes the following requirements to reduce overclassification in the Federal government:

  • The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security must designate a “Classified Information Advisory Officer” to improve information sharing with state, local, tribal and private sector entities that have responsibility for the security of critical infrastructure.
  • Inspectors general of departments which classify information must work with the Information Security Oversight Office to carry out at least two evaluations by 2016 to assess their department’s classification policies, procedures, rules and regulations.
  • The heads of departments which classify information must institute annual training for each employee who has original classification authority.

According to AALL’s Government Relations Policy, “Statutes and regulations governing security classification should be construed to promote open government while acknowledging the need for FOIA exemptions.” AALL strongly supports H.R. 553 and we are pleased with its passage. For more information about current classification policy in the Federal government, please read our Issue Brief.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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