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Federal Register: September 13, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 176)
Rules and Regulations
Page 49388-49391
[as corrected at 64 Federal Register 62113, November 16, 1999]
[corrected further at 65 Federal Register 16320, March 28, 2000]



Information Security Oversight Office

32 CFR Part 2001

[Directive No. 1; Appendix A]
[RIN 3095-AA92]

Classified National Security Information

AGENCY: Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), National Archives 
and Records Administration (NARA).

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This rule establishes a uniform referral standard that Federal 
agencies must use for multi-agency declassification issues. The new 
provision responds to a need for further guidance to Federal agencies 
in implementing section 3.7(b) of Executive Order 12958, Classified 
National Security Information. This rule provides standards and 
guidelines for identifying equities of other agencies and foreign 
governments contained in information requiring referral for review 
before declassification and subsequent public disclosure. It includes 
guidelines for referring, redacting, and properly marking information 
that is subject to the automatic declassification provisions of the 
Executive order.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 13, 1999.

Telephone: 202-219-5250.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued pursuant to the 
provisions of Sections 3.4 and 3.7 (b) of Executive Order 12958, 
published April 20, 1995 (60 Fed. Reg. 19825). Section 3.4 of E.O. 
12958 requires that all classified national security information 
contained in records that (1) are more than 25 years old, and (2) have 
been determined to have permanent historical value under title 44, 
United States Code, will be automatically declassified whether or not 
the records have been reviewed. Subsequently, all classified 
information in such records will be automatically declassified no 
longer than 25 years from the date of its original classification, 
except for information properly exempted in accordance with the Order. 
Section 3.7(b) requires that, when an agency receives any request for 
documents in its custody that contain information that was originally 
classified by another agency, or comes across such documents in the 
process of automatic declassification or systematic review provisions 
of this Order, the agency must refer copies of any request and the 
pertinent documents to the originating agency for processing, and may, 
after consultation with the originating agency, inform any requester of 
the referral unless such an association is itself classified under this 
    This amendment was developed and approved by more than 25 agencies 
that serve on the External Referral Working Group (ERWG) sponsored and 
endorsed by the Intelligence Community's Declassification Program 
Managers' Council. Forty-two agencies responded to ISOO's May 1998 call 
for comment on the amendment. Eight of them provided written comments 
or suggestions, all of which were considered and incorporated as 
appropriate by February 1999. The amendment is being

[[Page 49389]]

published as a new subsection to Part 2001, the Executive Order's 
implementing Directive No. 1, issued by the Director of Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) on October 13, 1995, when ISOO was a 
component of OMB. With the enactment of the Treasury, Postal Service 
and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1996, ISOO 
became a component of the National Archives and Records Administration.
    This rule is being issued as a final rule without prior notice of 
proposed rulemaking as allowed by the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 
U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(A) for rules of agency procedure. This rule is not a 
significant regulatory action for the purposes of Executive Order 
12866. This rule is not a major rule as defined in 5 U.S.C. Chapter 8, 
Congressional Review of Agency Rulemaking. As required by the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act, we certify that this rule will not have a 
significant impact on small entities because it applies only to Federal 

List of Subjects in 32 CFR Part 2001

    Archives and records, Authority delegations (Government agencies), 
Classified information, Executive orders, Freedom of Information, 
Information, Intelligence, National defense, National security 
information, Presidential documents, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Security information, Security measures.
    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, NARA amends part 2001 of 
title 32, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:


    The authority citation for part 2001 continues to read:

    Authority: Section 5.2(a) and (b), and section 5.4 E.O. 12958, 
60 FR 19825, April 20, 1995.

    2. Add Sec. 2001.55 to subpart E to read:

Sec. 2001.55  Document referral.

    (a) Purpose. Under E.O. 12958, agencies reviewing records for 
declassification must facilitate the review of equities of other 
agencies contained in their records. Because agencies have a variety of 
processes for review and referral, common language and standards are 
needed to ensure clear, concise communication and coordinated action 
among all agencies involved in the referral process. Common language 
and standards are needed for declassification, exemption from automatic 
declassification, and proper marking of information subject to the 
automatic declassification provision of the Order. Consistent 
declassification of information through standardized procedures should 
result in lower cost and greater process efficiency, review accuracy, 
and the protection of the equities of all executive branch agencies.
    (b) Applicability. These standards are binding on all executive 
branch agencies that create or handle classified information and are 
applicable to records covered under Section 3.4 of the Order. With 
respect to records reviewed prior to the issuance of these standards, 
deviations are acceptable as long as prior practice does not completely 
obstruct record referral.
    (c) Responsibility. The senior agency official is responsible for 
the agency's referral program. The senior agency official shall 
designate agency personnel to assist in carrying out this 
    (d) Definitions. For the purpose of this section:
    Declassified or Declassification means the authorized change in the 
status of information from classified information to unclassified 
    Equity means information originally classifed by or under the 
control of an agency, as control is defined in section 1.1(b) of E.O. 
    Exempted means nomenclature and marking indicating information has
been determined to fall within an enumerated exemption from automatic
declassification under E.O. 12958.  
    Pass/fail (P/F) means a declassification technique that regards 
information at the full document level. Any exemptible portion of a 
document may result in exemption (failure) of the entire document. 
Documents that contain no exemptible information are passed and 
therefore declassified. Declassified documents may be subject to other 
FOIA exemptions other than the security exemption ((b)(1)), and the 
requirements placed by legal authorities governing Presidential 
    Record means the statutory definition as provided under title 44 
U.S.C. 3301 and 44 U.S.C. 2111, 2111 note, and 2201.
    Redaction means a sanitization technique that involves removal 
(editing out) of exempted information from a document.
    Tab means a narrow paper sleeve placed around a document or group 
of documents in such a way that it would be readily visible
    (e) Approaches to declassification. The exchange of information 
between agencies and the final disposition of documents are affected by 
differences in the approaches to declassification. Agencies conducting 
pass/fail reviews may refer documents to agencies that redact. Actions 
taken by the sender and the recipient may differ as noted below:
    (1) When referral is from a pass/fail agency to a pass/fail agency, 
both agencies conduct pass/fail reviews and annotate the classification 
or declassification decisions on the tabs and/or documents in 
accordance with NARA guidelines. The receiving agency should also 
notify the referring agency that the review has been completed.
    (2) When referral is from a pass/fail agency to a redaction agency, 
the redaction agency is only required to conduct pass/fail reviews of 
documents referred by a pass/fail agency. If the redaction agency 
wishes to redact the document, it must do so on a copy of the referred 
document, then file the redacted version with the original. The 
redaction agency should also notify the pass/fail referring agency that 
the review has been completed.
    (3) Referrals from redaction agencies to pass/fail agencies will be 
in the form of document copies. In the course of review the pass/fail 
agency may either pass or fail the document or its equities. Failed 
documents will be reviewed and redacted when practicable.
    (4) Referrals between redaction agencies may result in redaction of 
any exemptible equities.
    (f) Referral decisions. When agencies review documents only to the 
point at which exemptible information is identified, they must take one 
of the following actions to protect any other unidentified equities 
that may be in the unreviewed portions of the document:
    (1) Complete a review of the document to identify other agency 
equities and notify those agencies; or
    (2) Exempt the document and assign a Date/Event for automatic 
declassification, before which time they must provide timely 
notification to any equity agencies. Agencies reviewing previously 
exempted documents may apply a different exemption and new Date/Event 
for automatic declassification based upon the content of previously 
unreviewed equities.
    (g) Unmarked or improperly marked documents. Agencies that find 
other agency information in unmarked or improperly marked documents 
that have been maintained and protected as classified information must 
afford those documents appropriate protection and tab or refer the 
documents as described in paragraph (h) of this section.

[[Page 49390]]

Agencies must provide other pertinent information, if available, 
regarding additional copies or possible public disclosure.
    (h) Means of Referral. The reviewing agency must communicate 
referrals to equity agencies. They may use either of the methods below:
    (1) Full text referral. Agencies will make referrals on media and 
in a format mutually agreed to by the referring and receiving agencies. 
Each referral request will clearly identify the referring agency and 
may identify the sections or areas of the document containing the 
receiving agency's equities and the requested action.
    (2) Tab and notify.
    (i) Agencies will use NARA-approved tabs and will clearly indicate 
on them the agency or agencies having equity in the document(s) held 
within the tabs. Successive documents with identical equity(ies) may be 
grouped within a single tab. Documents with differing equities, or non-
successive documents, must be tabbed individually. In general, document 
order may not be changed to facilitate tabbing. In cases where there 
are so many tabbed documents in a box that tabbing documents 
individually would seriously overfill the box, the reviewer may group 
documents under a single tab for each agency equity at the back of each 
file folder, or back of the box if there are no file folders.
    (ii) Agency notification must include, at a minimum, the following 
information: the approximate volume of equity, the highest 
classification of documents, the exact location (to box level) of the 
documents so marked, and instructions related to access to the boxes 
containing the documents.
    (iii) Agencies will acknowledge receipt of referral notifications. 
They should notify the agency that placed the tabs that the review is 
complete. Any additional equities noted in the review must be annotated 
on the tab and brought to the attention of the agency that tabbed the 
document so the tabbing agency can notify those newly identified 
    (i) [Reserved].
    (j) Reviewed document marking. Consistency in marking is essential 
in the referral of significant numbers of documents under the Executive 
Order. Decisions made during review must be communicated clearly to all 
subsequent reviewers.
    (1) Redactions must never be indicated on original documents, only 
on copies. Redaction agencies need a means of tracking the results of 
review (at the document level) by all reviewing agencies and a reason 
for each redaction.
    (2) If only one exemption from declassification applies to all 
redacted portions of a document, the applicable exemption may be 
indicated on the front page of the redacted copy. If more than one 
exemption applies to a document, each redacted portion for which an 
exemption is asserted must be marked on the redacted copy.
    (3) Redacted portions must be marked to indicate the agency and the 
number of the applicable exemption, for example, DIA25X1.
    (4) Agencies reviewing a referred document must indicate on the 
tab, folder, or box the result of the review (i.e., exemption or 
declassification). The original document should be marked with the 
final action only by the agency responsible for the final 
declassification decision. Options include marking a copy of the 
document, marking the tab, notification as part of a transmittal, or 
marking the box or folder according to NARA guidelines. Automated 
agencies may forgo marking documents, provided the required information 
is maintained in an agency database and is accessible to other 
agencies. Exempt documents may be marked.
    (i) Sample Exempted Document Stamp. Exempt documents may be stamped 
as shown in the following example:

    (A) Normally, only one stamp should be placed on the document with 
any subsequent reviewing agencies adding their information to the stamp 
on the document, if possible. The stamp should not cover any writing on 
the document.
    (B) Specific fields in the stamp must be completed as follows:
    (1) Exemption Code: Agency(ies) ID and 25X plus exemption code(s).
    (2) Date/Event: A specific date or event for declassification.
    (3) Other Agency Equity: This line is used to track other agency 
equities and their review. The declassification authority enters 
``NONE'' if no other agency equities are present, the identifiers of 
agencies with equity, or ``TBD'' (To be determined) if equities are 
unknown. Agency identifiers are crossed off as the reviews are 
completed and names may be added if additional equities are found.
    (4) Reviewed by: Optional. If used, enter name or other personal 
    (5) Date: Enter date the action was taken.
    (ii) Sample Stamp for Document Declassification. (A) When agencies 
mark declassified documents, the stamp must, at a minimum, include the 
information shown in the following example:

[[Page 49391]]


    (B) Specific fields in the stamp must be completed as follows:
    (1) Agency: Name of the agency.
    (2) By: Name or personal identifier of the reviewer. (Optional)
    (3) Date: Date the action was taken.

    Dated: September 7, 1999
John W. Carlin,
Archivist of the United States.
[FR Doc. 99-23800 Filed 9-10-99; 8:45 am]

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