Information Security Oversight Office
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408
October 28, 1998
Director, Information Security Oversight Office
The Defense Authorization Act for FY 1999
On October 17, 1998, the President signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 (the "Act"). Section 3161 of the Act, entitled "Protection Against Inadvertent Release of Restricted Data and Formerly Restricted Data," (RD/FRD) has an immediate impact on all agencies that are declassifying records under Section 3.4 of Executive Order 12958, "Classified National Security Information." Specifically, the legislation requires the Secretary of Energy and the Archivist of the United States to develop a plan to protect RD/FRD from inadvertent disclosure during the automatic declassification of 25-year-old records. From now until 60 days after the Secretary of Energy has submitte the plan to specified Members of Congress and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, agencies may not declassify any 25-year-old records that have not been reviewed on a page-by-page basis.
In signing the Act, the President issued the following statement:
I am disappointed that the Congress, in a well-meaning effort to further protect nuclear weapons information, has included an overly broad provision that impedes my Administration's work to declassify historically valuable records. I am committed to submitting the plan required within 90 days. In the meantime, I will interpret this provision in a manner that will ensure the maximum continuity of agency efforts, as directed by my Executive Order 12958, to declassify historically valuable records.
Before the submission of the plan, all affected agencies will be asked to review and comment upon the draft plan, and to provide information about its prospective impact that the Act requires be included within the plan.
During this restricted action period, agencies should continue their declassification activity under E.O. 12958. For records less than 25 years old, current procedures continue to apply. With respect to 25-year-old records, declassification in final of such records reviewed on a page-by-page basis should also continue. For 25-year-old records not reviewed on a page-by-page basis, final declassification is not permitted during this restricted action period. However, preliminary processing of such records should continue. This office will alert you when the restricted action period has expired.
Please alert at once all persons within your agency whose activities are affected by this legislation. Please direct any questions to your Information Security Oversight Office Liaison or to me. Thank you very much for your continued cooperation.
cc: Agency Points of Contact with ISOO