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July 1, 1999




In response to requests for further information about the results of ISOO's most recent survey, "What Do Americans Need to Know," I have prepared this brief information sheet. Time permitting, we may follow up with more detailed descriptions and analyses of our findings. This document summarizes by providing highlights of our general and specific findings, followed by the background for conducting the survey.

General Findings

Specific Findings


Between the months of March - May 1999, ISOO both distributed and encouraged the reproduction and further distribution of the attached survey form entitled "What Do Americans Need to Know?" The primary purpose was to gather data for a program that we are presenting on this date at the National Training Seminar of the National Classification Management Society (NCMS). As the reader can glean from the form, the survey asked the respondent to consider twelve items of information, and to assign to each category one of five ratings, from 0, the "General Public Should Not Know" to 4, "Extremely Important for General Public to Know." We asked each respondent to remain anonymous, but to note whether or not he or she worked with classified information, whether the respondent was a man or woman, and into which of three age groups the respondent fell: (a) born before 1946; (b) born between 1946 and 1963; and (c) born after 1963. The middle age group is what is popularly known as the "baby boomers," and the first and third age groups represent respectively the generations that came before and after the boomers.

We received over 800 completed responses by the time we began analyzing the data. We were able to use 768 of them after discarding the relatively few that did not include information on the requested variables or otherwise did not follow the directions. We grouped the usable survey forms into 12 separate categories, based on age, gender, and whether the individual worked with classified information. We analyzed the data based on these groupings, and on the larger groupings that result from combining data from groups that share one or more variables, e.g., all men, all women, all baby boomers, etc. While the number of completed surveys for each grouping varied, we received a sufficient number in each of the groupings to achieve what we believed to be a satisfactory sample.

We analyzed the data based on mean, median, mode, frequency, standard deviation, average deviation, and ranking of the responses by each group for each category. We also created a ranking measure pertinent to the results of this particular survey which we call the "openness quotient." The openness quotient of each group was determined by the totality of its ratings for all 12 categories of information. The higher the ratings, the higher the openness quotient.

Further Information

Contact Steven Garfinkel at ISOO, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 100, Washington, DC 20408; telephone (202) 219-5250; e-mail steven.garfinkel@arch1.nara.gov.

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