WASHINGTON (AFNS - March 20, 1996) -- Air Force is implementing the first phase of a monumental five-year plan to review 176 million pages of existing documents for possible declassification.
The effort, mandated by Executive Order 12958, requires all federal agencies to review classified documents that are 25 years old and of permanent historical value. Documents not reviewed by April 15, 2000, automatically will be declassified, according to the order.
"We've taken a fairly aggressive stance to establish a program in the Air Force that could meet our needs," an Air Force security official said.
The first phase includes mass distribution of an 18-minute videotape explaining the process and its background. The videotape, produced by Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., will be mailed in March to all Air Force public affairs offices for viewing on base closed-circuit channels and in commanders calls.
"Compliance with the executive order will help us get to the point where we no longer have classified information that's of very little value to us as long as it stays classified, the official said.
Declassified information will be of great value not only to the public and historians but also active-duty and Reserve forces who can learn about the past and plan for future unit activities, the official said.
The use of technology to distribute the information has impacted the volume of classified documents -- estimated to be roughly 10 billion across the U.S. government, the official said.
Prior to the widespread use of computers, carbon paper was used to type a document, and two copies of a document would exist, officials said. Today, classified documents can be distributed to thousands of people simultaneously at the push of a computer key.
Officials also cited the fact that, in the post-Cold War era, a lot of things simply don't need to be classified anymore. "We live in a different world," one official said.
Representatives from information management, security police and Air Force history identified three initial goals the Air Force needed to address in order to meet the declassification requirements of the order.
The goals are:
-- Institutionalize security education
-- Communicate declassification and reviews
-- Plan for a national database.
The video also details two computer training programs that were developed for the effort. The first includes declassification instructions and contains a listing of declassification guides. The second course -- available through the Extension Course Institute -- provides basic instruction on the concepts behind the declassification.
Original file name: .CNI - AF.declassify docs 3.21
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