Each year, ISOO reports to the President on the implementation of the Classified National Security Information (CNSI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) programs, in accordance with requirements in Executive Orders (E.O.s) 13526 and 13556. These reports support ISOO’s oversight responsibilities to further agency compliance with executive branch information security requirements. They include key findings, judgments, and recommendations that seek to improve these programs, as well as data and analysis on federal agency implementation of them.
ISOO published its FY 2020 Annual Report to the President on June 28, 2021. This year’s report, our first to the new Administration, highlights the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the CNSI and CUI programs. It illustrates many of the significant challenges that agencies faced during the pandemic, including facility closures and the inability to access CNSI, backlogs in declassification, and self-inspection program obstacles, as well as a few success stories that demonstrate how some agencies were able to innovate and maintain their missions. Many agencies made noteworthy progress in their CUI program implementation; however, implementation has been uneven and challenges remain.
Importantly, the report also highlights the critical need for the White House National Security Council to lead an interagency effort to modernize several of the key policies that govern the CNSI system, including E.O.s 13526 and 12829, as amended. As ISOO Director Mark A. Bradley states in his report, “There have been numerous operational changes since these orders were written. Some, such as access to classified information while teleworking, have been highlighted because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while others, such as the need to leverage advanced technologies to ensure the efficient and effective declassification of huge amounts of digital data, predate the pandemic.”
Other areas of focus in the FY 2020 report include the National Industrial Security Program; ISOO’s multi-year project to modernize its CNSI data collection methods and the oversight data it collects; the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel; and the Public Interest Declassification Board, all of which ISOO staff plays a core responsibility for fulfilling.