Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian Webinar Series

Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian

The Government Documents Round Table welcomes you to a series of webinars designed to help us all do better reference work by increasing our familiarity with government information resources, and by discovering the best strategies for navigating them.  These sessions will be recorded and made available after the live sessions on our The Help! Webinars YouTube Channel.


Coming up next:

Declassification of Federal Records and the Establishment of the National Declassification Center

May 11th, 2023 from 2:00pm to 3:00pm Eastern

The modern classification system for Federal records was established in September 1951 when President Truman issued Executive Order 10290. This order formalized the definition Top Secret, Secret, Confidential, and Restricted levels, and set guidelines for how this information was protected. For this and subsequent Executive Orders, protecting “sensitive” information became the primary focus, with declassification addressed without any deadlines or oversight. In fact, declassification did not become a government priority until President Clinton issued Executive Order 12958 in 1995. This order set an automatic declassification date for classified Federal records and required agencies to identify specific records that were still classified. The emphasis on classification led to a system that was buried under a mountain of classified information. When the NDC was established, there was an estimated backlog of 400 million pages of classified information waiting at the National Archives for declassification review. In a push toward government transparency, President Obama established the National Declassification Center (NDC) in 2010 and directed all agencies to support the Center in the elimination of that backlog. The NDC led an interagency effort to fix the declassification process and successfully eliminated the backlog in 3 years. Interagency declassification efforts continue, ensuring that the people have full access to essential documents of the Federal government. Despite our successes, declassification continues to be a topic of interested with the public and Congress.

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