The Office of Classification, within the Office of Health, Safety and Security manages the Government-wide program to classify and declassify nuclear weapons-related technology, implements the requirements of Executive Order 13526 regarding the classification and declassification of information that is vital to national security, and manages the Department-wide programs to control unclassified but sensitive information.
Since September 11, 2001, the Federal Government has focused its attention on the task of ensuring that terrorists and others who want to do harm to the United States cannot obtain the information, technology, or materials that will assist them to carry out their attacks. While it is important to have adequate protection systems in place, the first step to ensure our success in preventing such attacks is identifying what must be protected - and that is the mission of the Office of Classification. The Office of Classification has a broad spectrum of tools to identify such information, technology, and materials - from highly classified information concerning the technology and security of nuclear weapons and material (i.e., Restricted Data (RD), Formerly Restricted Data (FRD), National Security Information (NSI)) to information that cannot be classified but that someone could use to circumvent a facility's security measures and disrupt the operation of DOE facilities (i.e., Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information and Official Use Only information).
The Office of Classification, within the Office of Health, Safety and Security has the unique responsibility of identifying nuclear weapons-related information that must be protected in order to prevent our adversaries from developing weapons of mass destruction.
Classification is the foundation of nonproliferation. Certain information produced by the Department must be protected in order to ensure the interests of national security are served. Preventing nuclear weapons-related information from falling into the hands of adversaries seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction is our top priority. Our policy and technical guidance activity develops and issues Government-wide and Department-wide policies and technical guidance to ensure that classified nuclear weapons-related information and other information assets critical to the national security and to other Governmental, commercial, or private interests are identified for proper protection. This activity is vital to national security and U.S. non-proliferation efforts because information assets cannot be protected until they are identified as requiring protection. Furthermore, it is critical that we accurately identify that information that is truly sensitive so that the Department can focus its finite security assets with maximum effectiveness - not wasting resources protecting information of little or no value to a potential malefactor.
However . . . Government openness is the foundation of democracy. Our information and document declassification efforts promote the release of information needed by an informed citizenry to understand and oversee the actions of its Government. These declassification activities ensure that information produced by the Department in potentially classified subject areas that is not itself sensitive can be released to the public whenever possible. Our document declassification review program provides for the review of historical records scheduled for declassification; documents requested under statute or Executive Order; documents requested in response to litigation; and documents requested by Congress and other groups. These reviews are performed to serve both the public interest, by declassifying information that can safely be released, and to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, by ensuring that no appropriately classified or controlled information is inadvertently released, under the requirements of the Atomic Energy Act, Executive Order 13526, and Public Law 105 261.
Balancing national security with openness. As guardians of Government information, we must continuously distinguish between information that must be protected for national security reasons and information that must be made available to the public to promote understanding of and confidence in our Government. Our office is committed to maintaining this necessary balance; we do not view these as opposing requirements, but rather as two complementary parts that form a complete and critical function. Our staff of dedicated professionals works to ensure that the Department's information assets are publicly released to the maximum extent possible consistent at all times with our paramount concern for the security of our Nation.