U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Weighing the Costs of Security

NCJ Number
Security Management Volume: 41 Issue: 7 Dated: (July 1997) Pages: 120-121,123-125
G Gower
Date Published
5 pages
The overclassification of national security information entails significant costs both in the money spent on the bureaucracy and in the hidden toll on the country's political health; the issue should be addressed cost-effectively by not classifying information in the first place rather than through the time-consuming process of declassification.
The Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Security recently issued a report entitled Secrecy. This report was the first congressional review of the national security classification system in 40 years. It represented an effort to build on the government's attempts to revamp the country's classification system. The report offers a number of positive solutions; government officials and private industry agree that implementation would be challenging but worthwhile given the cost of ignoring the issue. More than 1.5 billion pages of records 25 years old and older remain classified by the Federal Government. The Information Security Oversight Office reported that securing these documents against theft cost the government $2.7 billion in 1995. Private industry paid more than $2.9 billion to comply with government requirements to secure classified documents in the same year. The commission said that these costs will continue to rise unless the country revises the classification system. Illustration and list of government agencies that have put declassified material online