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110th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     110-809

======================================================================



 
                   OVER-CLASSIFICATION REDUCTION ACT

                                _______
                                

 July 30, 2008.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Waxman, from the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 6575]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 6575) to require the Archivist of 
the United States to promulgate regulations to prevent the 
over-classification of information, and for other purposes, 
having considered the same, report favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Legislative History..............................................     2
Section-by-Section...............................................     3
Explanation of Amendments........................................     4
Committee Consideration..........................................     4
Rollcall Votes...................................................     4
Application of Law to the Legislative Branch.....................     4
Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the 
  Committee......................................................     4
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     5
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     5
Federal Advisory Committee Act...................................     5
Unfunded Mandates Statement......................................     5
Earmark Identification...........................................     5
Committee Estimate...............................................     5
Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate...     5
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     7

                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    H.R. 6575, the Over-Classification Reduction Act, was 
introduced by Reps. Henry A. Waxman and Tom Davis on July 23, 
2008. The purpose of H.R. 6575 is to apply standards and 
practices to reduce improper classification and encourage 
information sharing.
    H.R. 6575 requires the Archivist, in coordination with 
affected federal agencies, to promulgate regulations to prevent 
the over-classification of information. The bill also requires 
agency inspectors general to randomly audit classified 
information to ensure that these regulations, and other 
classification policies, are being followed.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the 
United States, popularly known as the 9/11 Commission, 
recommended limiting the unnecessary classification of 
documents and providing incentives for information sharing.\1\ 
Seven years has passed since those horrific events and our 
government still is not sharing important information. This is 
in part due to over-classification.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, 
The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on 
Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (July 22, 2004).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Committee understands there is some information that 
must be protected because it could easily threaten our national 
security. Having a system to classify information is necessary. 
However, there is a tendency to overprotect information, and 
that has adverse consequences as well. Over-classification 
actually hurts our efforts to fight terrorism because it 
prevents agencies from sharing important information with 
relevant stakeholders including state and local law enforcement 
and even other federal agencies. In addition, it undermines 
public access to this important information.
    In December 2004, Congress, in the Intelligence Reform and 
Terrorism Prevention Act, P.L. 108-458, called for reducing 
disincentives for information sharing including over-
classification. Since that time, over-classification continues 
to be a problem in the federal government.
    H.R. 6575 calls on the Archivist to resolve the problem of 
over-classification by standardizing the use of classifications 
and by establishing methods to increase oversight of the 
classification process. These include requiring random 
inspector general audits of classified information; 
establishing a process for those challenging classification 
decisions to be rewarded; requiring individuals to include 
personal identifiers when classifying information; and 
increased training.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    During the 108th Congress, the Subcommittee on National 
Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations held 
the hearing, Too Many Secrets: Overclassification as a Barrier 
to Critical Information Sharing (Aug. 24, 2004).
    During the 109th Congress, the Subcommittee on National 
Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations held 
two hearings on this issue: Drowning in a Sea of Faux Secrets: 
Policies on Handling of Classified and Sensitive Information 
(Mar. 14, 2006) and Emerging Threats: Overclassification and 
Pseudo-classification (Mar. 2, 2005).
    H.R. 6575, the Over-Classification Reduction Act, was 
introduced by Reps. Henry A. Waxman and Tom Davis on July 23, 
2008, and referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government 
Reform.
    On July 23, 2008, the Committee on Oversight and Government 
Reform held a business meeting to consider H.R. 6575 and 
ordered the bill to be favorably reported by a voice vote.

                           SECTION-BY-SECTION

Section 1. Short title

    This section provides that the short title of the bill is 
the ``Over-Classification Reduction Act.''

Section 2. Purpose

    This section provides that the purpose of the Act is to 
increase the sharing and availability of information within the 
government and with the public by applying standards and 
practices to reduce improper classification.

Section 3. Over-classification prevention within the Federal Government

    Subsection (a) requires the Archivist, in coordination with 
the heads of other affected agencies, to promulgate regulations 
to prevent the over-classification of information. These 
regulations should apply both to those individuals who have 
original classification authority and to any individual who has 
derivative classification authority.
    This subsection calls on the Archivist to determine when 
classified products should be prepared in a standard format and 
when classified products should be prepared in an unclassified 
format. In addition, the regulations will ensure that 
compliance protects national security and privacy rights and 
will establish a process for individuals that challenge 
classification decisions to receive incentives for successful 
challenges.
    This subsection requires the Archivist, as appropriate, to 
consult with various stakeholders including state and local 
governments, law enforcement entities, organizations with 
expertise in civil rights, labor rights, civil liberties, and 
government oversight, and the private sector.
    Subsection (b) requires the inspector general of each 
federal agency, in consultation with the Archivist, to randomly 
audit classified information from each component of the agency 
that has employees with classification authority. This section 
requires the inspector general, in conducting these audits, to 
determine whether the agency is properly following relevant 
classification policies and regulations, to describe any 
problems with implementation, and to recommend improvements in 
awareness and training to address those problems. The inspector 
general must report to Congress, the Archivist, and the public 
on the findings of these audits.

Section 4. Enforcement of over-classification prevention within the 
        Federal Government

    Subsection (a) requires that at the time an individual 
classifies information, that individual provide unique 
identifying information including the name or personal 
identifier and the agency, office, and position of the 
individual. The purpose of this requirement is to permit the 
agency to perform oversight of over-classification.
    Subsection (b) requires the Archivist, in coordination with 
the heads of other affected federal agencies, to require, in 
existing annual training, information on the prevention of 
over-classification of information, the proper use of 
classification markings, and the use of portion markings. This 
subsection clarifies that this training is to be conducted in 
conjunction with other training programs required by the agency 
to reduce the burden of this new requirement.
    Subsection (c) requires the Archivist to establish a 
program to detail federal agency personnel to the National 
Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on a nonreimbursable 
basis. The purpose of this program is to help NARA conduct its 
oversight responsibilities, to provide the detailed personnel 
with more extensive training on the use of classification 
markings, and to ensure consistent policies across agencies. 
This subsection provides that the detailee program will 
continue through the year 2012.

Section 5. Definitions

    This section defines ``information'' as any communicable 
knowledge or documentary material, regardless of its physical 
form or characteristics, which is owned by, is produced by or 
for, or is under the control of the federal government.
    This section defines the term ``federal agency'' to mean: 
(1) Any executive agency, which means an executive department, 
a government corporation, and an independent establishment; (2) 
any military department, which means the Department of the 
Army, the Department of the Navy, or the Department of the Air 
Force; and (3) any other entity within the executive branch 
that comes into the possession of classified information.

                       EXPLANATION OF AMENDMENTS

    No amendments were offered to this legislation.

                        COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    On Wednesday, July 23, 2008, the Committee ordered H.R. 
6575 to be favorably reported to the House by a voice vote.

                             ROLLCALL VOTES

    No rollcall votes were held.

              APPLICATION OF LAW TO THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

    Section 102(b)(3) of P.L. 104-1 requires a description of 
the application of this bill to the legislative branch where 
the bill relates to terms and conditions of employment or 
access to public services and accommodations. H.R. 6575 relates 
to the over-classification of documents by the executive branch 
and therefore does not apply to the legislative branch.

  STATEMENT OF OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
2(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives, 
the Committee's oversight findings and recommendations are 
reflected in the descriptive portions of this report, including 
the need to limit the unnecessary classification of documents.

         STATEMENT OF GENERAL PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goals and objectives are reflected in the descriptive portions 
of this report, including reducing improper classification and 
encouraging information sharing.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Under clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House 
of Representatives, the Committee must include a statement 
citing the specific powers granted to Congress to enact the law 
proposed by H.R. 6575. Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 of the 
Constitution of the United States grants the Congress the power 
to enact this law.

                     FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ACT

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not establish 
or authorize the establishment of an advisory committee within 
the definition of 5 U.S.C. App., Section 5(b).

                      UNFUNDED MANDATES STATEMENT

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act (as amended by Section 101(a)(2) of the Unfunded 
Mandates Reform Act, P.L. 104-4) requires a statement on 
whether the provisions of the report include unfunded mandates. 
In compliance with this requirement the Committee has received 
a letter from the Congressional Budget Office included herein.

                         EARMARK IDENTIFICATION

    H.R. 6575 does not include any congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in 
clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of rule XXI.

                           COMMITTEE ESTIMATE

    Clause 3(d)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the 
Committee of the costs that would be incurred in carrying out 
H.R. 6575. However, clause 3(d)(3)(B) of that rule provides 
that this requirement does not apply when the Committee has 
included in its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the 
bill prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act.

     BUDGET AUTHORITY AND CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect 
to requirements of clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives and section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has received 
the following cost estimate for H.R. 6575 from the Director of 
the Congressional Budget Office:

                                                     July 29, 2008.
Hon. Henry A. Waxman,
Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 6575, the Over-
Classification Reduction Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matthew 
Pickford.
            Sincerely,
                                                   Peter R. Orszag.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 6575--Over-Classification Reduction Act

    H.R. 6575 would amend federal law concerning the security 
classification of government documents. The legislation would 
require the National Archives and Records Administration 
(NARA), in consultation with the Director of National 
Intelligence and other affected federal agencies to develop 
regulations that prevent the overuse of classification 
procedures to withhold information collected or prepared by the 
federal government. The legislation would require agencies to 
consider whether classified information could benefit state, 
local, or tribal governments, as well as law enforcement 
activities or the public. The bill also would require annual 
training for employees and contractors on how to classify 
information, and audits by inspectors general to determine 
whether information has been properly classified.
    CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 6575 would cost $2 
million in 2009 and $22 million over the 2009-2013 period, 
assuming the availability of appropriated funds. Those costs 
would be incurred to implement new regulations and requirements 
and to conduct training and audits. Although the legislation 
could affect agencies not funded through annual appropriations 
(such as the Tennessee Valley Authority or the U.S. Postal 
Service), CBO estimates that any net increase in spending by 
those agencies would not be significant.
    Most of the legislation would expand on current law and 
practices of the federal government. Information from NARA and 
the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense indicates that 
most agencies comply with existing NARA regulations regarding 
the classification of federal information and already provide 
annual training to employees on classification procedures. 
However, NARA and agencies would incur additional costs under 
the bill to implement new regulations, perform audits, and 
provide additional training.
    H.R. 6575 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matthew 
Pickford. This estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

         CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    No changes to existing law are made by H.R. 6575, as 
reported.