September 29, 2016

Wyden Questions ODNI About Program to Reduce Unnecessary Classification

Over-Classification Makes it Harder To Protect Real National Secrets, Costs Taxpayers Millions; Wyden Letter Follows Freedom of Information Act requests by the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to explain whether intelligence agencies have implemented a program to reward employees for accurately classifying sensitive information, in a letter to Director James Clapper today.

The Reducing Over-Classification Act of 2010 (ROCA) allows government agencies to pay cash awards to employees who accurately classify government documents consistently and avoid unnecessary over-classification of information that is not a threat to national security. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ODNI said it could not locate any records about the criteria for awarding those incentives.

“Congress included this provision in ROCA to reverse the culture of unnecessary classification, reduce the volume of classified documents, and better protect the secrets whose disclosure would truly threaten national security,” Wyden wrote. “I am concerned that federal agencies with the power to classify and declassify documents may not be taking advantage of these payment awards, and I believe doing so could benefit our national security.”

Wyden asked ODNI whether intelligence agencies have actually provided cash awards for accurately classifying documents, and whether the agencies have established criteria for providing these awards.

The full letter is available here: