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Keeping current on government secrecy

Shhh!!: Keeping Current on Government Secrecy. by Laura Gordon-Murnane. Searcher Magazine, Vol. 14 No. 1 — Jan 2006.

This is a very thorough article that includes a hefty list of govt watchdog groups concerned with FOIA and issues of govt secrecy — including FGI!! For example, I hadn’t seen OpenTheGovernment’s well-researched and documented Secrecy Report Card 2005: Quantitative Indicators of Secrecy in the Federal Government (PDF).

Since September 11, 2001, several important trends have affected access to federal documents and information. First and foremost, the federal government is keeping more information away from the public. In July 2005, The New York Times reported that the government in a single year (2004) classified more than 15 million pages, while declassifying only 28 million pages. Not surprisingly, the increased secrecy is very expensive and costly. The Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) issued its 2004 Report on Cost Estimates for Security Classification Activities and found that “the total security classification cost estimates within Government for FY 2004 is $7.2 Billion.” This represents an “11 percent increase above the cost estimates reported for FY 2003.” Furthermore, in its 2004 Report to the President, ISOO warned that “over classification, besides needlessly and perhaps dangerously restricting information sharing, also wastes untold dollars.” Secrecy is also costly in terms of sharing information and being prepared to deal with threats to national security. The 9/11 Commission identified over-classification of documents and the “need to know” culture as one of the serious problems that led to a failure of imagination.

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