In response to a Freedom of Information Act request from PPSA about classification procedures, the State Department reported that based on a representative sampling, only a tiny number of documents were improperly or overly classified. This seemed to us a mind-boggling response given the mountains of documents stamped classified every day at Foggy Bottom. Now, PPSA has obtained data from across the government to show the State Department’s response was misleading.
At a 2015 open house presentation by the National Archives and Records Administration, a graphic produced by the Information Security Oversight Office showed that nearly 100 million items are classified each year by the federal government. An Obama-era law and executive order provide the means for people within the agencies to challenge a classification decision without fear of retribution.
So how is that working out?
Of these 100 million decisions, only a minuscule fraction is challenged — in one year, much less than 1% of 1%. The graph demonstrates the extent to which the government continues to hide much of its operations from the American people.