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Homeland Security

Declassification of Department of Homeland Security Information


Overview

Only in existence since 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a minimal number of records of permanent historical value that are subject to the automatic declassification provisions of Executive Order 13526, “Classified National Security Information.”  The majority of these records were produced by legacy components of DHS, which include the United States Secret Service (USSS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the United States Coast Guard (USCG). 

To address the declassification of applicable records generated by the component agencies, USSS and FEMA have created declassification guides that identify program specific information that is exempt from automatic declassification and that have been approved by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP). 

In all other instances where an approved exemption from automatic declassification does not exist, DHS component generated classified information is automatically declassified, or, where such records contain the equities of other agencies, referred to the appropriate agencies.  DHS routinely reviews information to affirm classification and to declassify when possible. Most information currently declassified by DHS resides in Presidential Libraries and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and is subject to external publication schedules.

DHS has instituted a fundamental and comprehensive review of all existing DHS security classification guides.  The purpose of the review is to evaluate the guide content, assess the applicability of the guidance to the current operational environment, and ensure the guidance conforms to the standards for classification.  Under this effort, each security classification guide published within DHS will be revised and reissued no later than June 2012.

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Status of DHS Declassification Efforts

Of the estimated 400 million pages of records currently held at the NARA College Park Facility, only a small percentage (approximately 400,000 pages) fall under the purview of DHS, most of which have already been reviewed for declassification.

Department of Homeland Security Pages Reviewed and Declassified

 

Reviewed

Declassified

FY2009

2,723

767

FY2008

18,765

3,864

FY2007

22,948

10,208

FY2006

239,470

3,626

FY2005

10,661

9,583

FY2004

10,007

9,681

Note: Does not include Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) program
Source: National Archives and Records Administration Annual Report to the President

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Presidential Libraries

Documents residing at the Presidential Libraries are routinely scanned into the Remote Archives Capture (RAC) program for review by all executive branch agencies and the Department of Defense. Since the inception of the RAC Program, DHS has been aggressively reviewing these documents for possible release, exemption, exclusion or additional referrals. Documents scanned into the RAC program are processed and ready for public viewing in approximately six months.

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Mandatory Declassification Review Requests (MDR)

The DHS process for submitting a mandatory declassification review request under the provisions of Executive Order 13526 are publically available and published in 6 C.F.R. Part 7, DHS Classified National Security Information.  MDR’s received from the public are processed through the DHS Departmental Disclosure Officer, Privacy Office.  Referral requests received from other government agencies or via the Presidential Libraries are processed by the DHS Office of the Chief Security Officer/Administrative Security Division.  Since 2004, the Department of Homeland Security has reviewed over 1068 MDR’s, comprising of over 52,600 pages. Of those pages reviewed, approximately 40,021 pages were declassified either in full or in part.

 

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FOIA Requests

The Privacy Office is responsible for administering policies, programs, and procedures to ensure that Department of Homeland Security complies with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552 and 5 U.S.C. 552a, respectively.

FOIA requires agencies to make various types of records available for public inspection in both paper and electronic form. These records are available for public viewing online in the DHS/FOIA Electronic Reading Room. More information on FOIA.

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Last Published Date: June 29, 2012
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