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Secrecy News -- 03/19/07

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 10:10:31 -0400
Fwd Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2007 09:31:29 -0400
Subject: Secrecy News -- 03/19/07


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 30
March 19, 2007

Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

Support Secrecy News:
http://www.fas.org/static/contrib_sec.jsp


**	ARCHIVISTS DIVIDED OVER HANDLING OF FINANCIAL RECORDS
**	SELECTED CRS REPORTS
**	CORRECTION


ARCHIVISTS DIVIDED OVER HANDLING OF FINANCIAL RECORDS

Behind closed doors at the National Archives, an acrimonious
debate has unfolded over whether and how to dispose of records
generated by Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) at executive branch
agencies.

What is at stake is the proper identification and preservation
of historically significant government financial records, some
of which have already been lost.

A proposed "General Records Schedule" (GRS) that would authorize
the disposal and destruction of various CFO records is
"fundamentally flawed," wrote one Archives analyst last year.

"I really cannot say anything positive about this proposed GRS,"
wrote another analyst, in internal comments. "It is flawed,
troubling, and misleading." It is "unimplementable" and "will
lead to the destruction of permanent records."

"This proposal is ill-considered, ill-conceived, and should be
terminated with extreme prejudice," said a third.

But another Archives official said the "extremely aggressive
tone to the argument" shows that those critics' judgment has
been "clouded" because they were not consulted in advance.

As a general matter, no one doubts that the overwhelming
majority of government records lack permanent historical value
and are properly destroyed. What is at issue in this dispute is
whether the proposed schedule for destruction of financial
records properly recognizes the enduring value of some CFO
records.

The functions of agency Chief Financial Officers "are not
routine, administrative, housekeeping operations traditionally
covered by a [General Records Schedule]," one internal NARA
critic insisted. "Prima facie, it is doubtful that there should
be a GRS for the office of Chief Financial Officer."

But the proposal is nevertheless moving forward.

In a February 22 Federal Register notice, NARA announced the
availability for public comment of a disposition schedule for
CFO records. A copy is here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2007/03/nara-cfo.pdf

As a result of the debate of the past several months, the
revised proposal adds several new caveats. It acknowledges that
some CFO records are permanent, not temporary, and that they
must be preserved; it specifies that the proposed schedule would
apply to certain types of CFO components and not to others; and
it notes that some CFO records are already subject to existing
schedules that take precedence over the new proposal.

Under the circumstances, then, the remaining question is whether
the proposed schedule will provide increased clarity and
flexibility, as intended, or whether it will generate new
confusion and inadvertent loss of historically valuable records.

A cross-section of internal NARA comments on the proposed
schedule as of September 2006, only some of which were resolved
by the latest draft, is posted here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2007/03/nara-cfo-comm.pdf

Some basic financial records of the United States Government
have already been lost to history.

"We are unable to locate a document containing, or a series of
documents from which we may deduce, the aggregate U.S.
intelligence budget figure for Fiscal Year 1947 [or Fiscal Year
1948]," wrote the CIA's Kathryn I. Dyer in 2003 in response to a
Federation of American Scientists lawsuit.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/foia/1947/cia062703.html


SELECTED CRS REPORTS

Some noteworthy recent products of the Congressional Research
Service include the following.

"The Whistleblower Protection Act: An Overview," March 12, 2007:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33918.pdf

"China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy
Capabilities -- Background and Issues for Congress," updated
February 7, 2007:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33153.pdf

"Data Security Breaches: Context and Incident Summaries,"
updated January 29, 2007:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33199.pdf

"Bolivia: Political and Economic Developments and Implications
for U.S. Policy," updated January 26, 2007:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL32580.pdf

"The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States
(CFIUS)," updated January 25, 2007:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33388.pdf


CORRECTION

In a story about a memorandum of understanding between the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security and Russia's Federal Security
Service (FSB), Secrecy News (03/15/07) mistakenly referred to
the FSB as Russia's "foreign intelligence agency."

The FSB has various counterespionage and foreign intelligence
surveillance responsibilities, but it is primarily an internal
security service.

Russia's principal foreign intelligence agency is the Foreign
Intelligence Service (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki or SVR).




_______________________________________________
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send email to
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Secrecy News is archived at:
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Secrecy News is available in blog format at:
http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

SUPPORT Secrecy News with a donation here:
http://www.fas.org/static/contrib_sec.jsp

_______________________
Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
web:  www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
email: saftergood.nul
voice: (202) 454-4691



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