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Department of Energy Declassification Plan for Executive Order 12958

Department of Energy

Declassification Plan

Executive Order 12958

Classified National Security Information

September 1995


As required by Executive Order 12958, the attached Document Declassification Implementation plan has been developed for the Department of Energy. It is hereby approved for implementation.

Program Coordinator:
[signed] Anton A. "Joe" Sinisgalli, Director
Document Declassification Division
Office of Declassification
Department of Energy
Date: 10-12-95

Program Manager:
[signed] A. Bryan Siebert, Director
Office of Declassification
Office of Security Affairs
Department of Energy
Date: 10-12-95

Table of Contents


Appendix 1 - DOE Organizational Chart


One of the requirements of Executive Order (E.O.) 12958, "Classified National Security Information," is to provide a plan for the implementation of the automatic declassification provisions of the order to the Information Security Oversight Office by October 16, 1995. This plan satisfies that requirement.

The Department of Energy (DOE) fully supports the President's directive to provide for a more informed citizenry by making more information available to the American public. Under the leadership of the Secretary, the DOE has strongly supported declassification actions to open the previously classified records of the Department.

Furthermore, while the Restricted Data (RD) and Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) files of the Department are protected under the statutory requirements of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, and are, therefore, specifically exempted from the order, the Department has in place a program to systematically review those records as well in order to declassify that information which no longer needs to be protected. Those programs will continue simultaneously with the implementation of E.O. 12958.


The DOE official in overall charge of overseeing and managing compliance for National Security Information (NSI) document declassifications under E.O. 12958 is Mr. A. Bryan Siebert, Director, Office of Declassification, (301) 903-3521.

The implementation of the document declassification review program in the DOE will be managed by Mr. Anton A. "Joe" Sinisgalli, Director, Document Declassification Division, Office of Declassification, (301) 903- 4199.


President Clinton signed E.O. 12958 on April 17, 1995, and it became effective on October 16, 1995. Its most significant requirement calls for the automatic declassification of NSI records (i.e., records classified by previous Executive orders) which have permanent historical value and are 25 years old or older on April 16, 2000. Recognizing that there are certain categories of NSI which must continue to be protected beyond 25 years, the order provides for the exemption of those sensitive records either by complete file series or on an individual record basis. In support of the President's Openness Initiative the DOE has determined that it will not submit any file series for exemption. However, DOE has identified numerous records exempt from automatic declassification. These topical areas require continued protection due to their continuing sensitivity under provisions of Executive Order in section 3.4. These topical areas are discussed later in this plan and listed in detail within the Historical Records Declassification Guide CG-HR-1.

In order to prepare this plan, the DOE determined that it was first necessary to assess the volume and nature of the records both in its possession and those held by other agencies which were likely to contain DOE-exemptible material. The DOE conducted a survey of the records in the Washington D.C. area consisting of more than 100,000,000 pages. This survey was conducted at the National Archives and Records Administration facilities at College Park and Suitland, Maryland and the DOE History Division at Germantown, Maryland. We looked at DOE records as well as some of the records of other agencies. The results of this survey were alarming in that significant amounts of both RD and FRD material containing sensitive information regarding the design and employment of nuclear weapons were found in NSI-marked files; i.e., files purportedly containing no RD or FRD, as well as unmarked documents. Specifically, we located the complete design of several nuclear weapons which had been improperly marked or stored with other records. In the absence of a review, this information would have been released under the automatic declassification provisions of the order.

In addition to the survey, we contacted our field organizations for assessments of their holdings and discussed with other agencies our equities which may be in their holdings. The Presidential Libraries in particular, have determined that they have DOE information which is intermixed with the information of other agencies. To compound the problem, the information in the Libraries is protected at the White House access level, thus requiring special clearance to access the records. This presents an additional challenge to overcome.

We do not, however, propose to invalidate the Executive order or to delay its implementation schedule. DOE has demonstrated through its Openness Initiative and the positive steps it has already taken that it is committed to the principles of an open Government and disclosure of the maximum amount of information possible consistent with protecting our vital national security interests. In order to preclude inadvertent releases which would make information on weapons of mass destruction available to both proliferant nations and terrorist organizations, DOE has developed the concept defined in this plan. Our plan is based on two principles: use reviewers trained to identify the exempt material so that it may be properly withheld, and educate other agencies in identifying RD and FRD through a DOE outreach program.

DOE estimates that there are approximately 53,000 cubic feet (132,500,000 pages) of material which require review prior to automatic declassification. This estimate is based on a survey of records holding facilities. It may change or be revised due to re-evaluation of the original methodology. The location of this material is shown in Figure 1. Based on our survey, as well as conversations with other agencies, there appears to be a large volume of DOE classified information on weapons of mass destruction throughout other agency files both in DOE documents and imbedded in documents originated by the other agencies.

To implement E.O. 12958 the DOE:

1. Identified those DOE NSI topical areas which should be exempt under the guidance of E.O. 12958. DOE's Historical Records Declassification Guide, CG-HR-1, has identified the following subject areas as containing selected information which requires continued protection under the provisions of the E.O. because of their continuing sensitivity. (Squared brackets are used to identify the appropriate portion of paragraph 3.4(b) of the Executive Order 12958 under which the exemption falls for that prticular subject area. [3.4(b)(2)] means exemption 2 in paragraph 3.4(b).)

a. Concerns safeguards and security information related to current security measures at DOE sites or security programs that could: (1) provide meaningful assistance to a malefactor for theft of SNM; (2) provide meaningful assistance to a malefactor for the sabotage of DOE nuclear facilities or assets; (3) meaningfully assist a malefactor in composing a credible nuclear threat message; (4) be exploited by foreign intelligence service to either enhance its intelligence collection efforts or thwart U.S. counterintelligence efforts; or (5) provide meaningful assistance in gaining unauthorized access to currently classified information including that in secure communications or in automated information system (AIS) equipment and AISs. [3.4(b)(2) and (3)]

b. Concerns transportation safeguards systems used for transporting nuclear weapons and components and special nuclear materials (SNM) relating to current systems still in operation. Examples of these systems include, but are not limited to, details of the safe secure trailers, operational procedures, secure communications, threats, and vulnerabilities. [3.4(b)(2) and (9)]

c. Concerns compromise of any details of RD, FRD, or exempt NSI. Such compromise information typically points to where the information can be found in the public domain. [3.4(b)(2)]

d. Concerns unrecovered nuclear weapons and classified components which may provide information that might assist in gaining unauthorized recovery of nuclear weapons or components by others with resultant compromise of nuclear weapons design information. [3.4(b)(2)]

e. Concerns Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) assets, capabilities, equipment, procedures, or operations still currently being used to: (1) search for and aid in the recovery of lost nuclear weapons or materials; and (2) aid the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the events of a crime involving the theft or alleged theft of a nuclear weapon, an improvised nuclear device or a radiation dispersal device, or to commit any other crime involving nuclear weapons, explosives, devices, or nuclear materials. [3.4(b)(2) and (8)]

f. Concerns vulnerability and hardening technology against nuclear weapons. [3.4(b)(2)]

g. Concerns high altitude nuclear weapons effects information. [3.4(b)(2)]

h. Concerns proliferation of nuclear weapons information, particularly proliferation detection components or systems and methods for spoofing (giving false indications) and tampering, that could assist potential proliferators, hostile nations, and potential adversaries to develop, improve, or use nuclear weapons. [3.4(b)(2) and (9)]

i. Concerns DOE intelligence information, intelligence sources or cryptology which is still currently being used and may reveal sensitive information related to the nuclear weapons program. [3.4(b)(1) and (2)]

j. Concerns foreign governments or international organization(s) information which was provided to DOE, or DOE information provided to foreign government(s) or international organization(s), with the understanding that such information be kept in confidence. Such information includes, but is not limited to, information generated pursuant to agreements for cooperation or sensitive high level energy discussions between DOE (or the Manhattan Engineering District, or the Atomic Energy Commission, or Energy Research and Development Administration) officials and foreign government representatives. [3.4(b)(6) and (9)]

k. Concerns naval nuclear propulsion information which will assist other nations in the application of nuclear propulsion to naval vessels, will provide unauthorized access to information related to the operational characteristics and capabilities of a naval nuclear propulsion plant. [3.4(b)(2) and (6)]

These are the only NSI subject areas that DOE desires to continue to protect in documents that are older than 1976. Even though the documents within these subject areas are exempt from automatic declassification, they are still subject to mandatory and systematic declassification review under the provisions of the E.O.

2. Performed characterization surveys of DOE's classified record file series located at DOE Headquarters, as well as at NARA within the Washington D.C. area, which have been designated as having historical value (permanent file series) to determine the existence and percentage of exemptible information in each file series.

3. Developed a database of the DOE records in the Washington D.C. area which:

(a) Identifies and categorizes file series that:

(1) should be exempt;

(2) are not exempt but must be reviewed before release; and

(3) should be reviewed if resources are available, but will otherwise be automatically declassified.

(b) Provides a basis to plan the scope of our declassification activity under the order. (See Figure 1.)

4. Developed and is continuing to develop training courses for other agency reviewers to enable them to recognize DOE information that may be present in their file series, and in some cases declassify DOE's NSI.

5. Initiated an outreach program to exchange data with other agencies to insure coordination where needed, as well as sharing of experience and ideas.


It is recognized that the records that must be reviewed are scattered across the country at a variety of locations. The map at Figure 2 shows the Archives sites, Federal Records Centers, DOE facilities, and Presidential Libraries. (12 libraries are shown but only 10 past presidents could have DOE RD/FRD.)

  1. This plan covers only records determined by the Archivist of the United States to have permanent value. DOE Records Management personnel and the Archivist will ensure that all historically significant records are scheduled for permanent retention. Any pre-1976 records that are subsequently determined to be permanently valuable will be reviewed by the end of the transition period or within 1 year of being declared permanently valuable, whichever is greater.
  2. Where possible, document collections should be kept intact for convenience in historical research. Collections whose timespan overlaps a due date for automatic declassification will be scheduled for review as an entity. The collection is scheduled for review based on the latest date in the collection's timespan as if the entire collection is due for automatic declassification based on that date.
  3. Documents containing RD and FRD are classified under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and are not governed by E.O. 12958. Consequently, RD and FRD are not subject to the automatic declassification provisions of E.O. 12958.
  4. NSI documents residing in RD/FRD collections (file series) are not exempt from the provisions of E.O. 12958. All file series have been evaluated based upon the NSI they contain for the purpose of determining whether it was appropriate to request an exemption and for scheduling a collection review.
  5. If a document containing RD/FRD is improperly marked NSI, or has no markings, it can be properly marked and excluded from further review.
  6. If a document contains exemptible unmarked NSI, it may be marked appropriately and segregated from records scheduled for automatic declassification.
  7. DOE's review will not normally include documents marked as unclassified. However, in recognition of the risk associated with these policies, DOE will survey collections prior to making a determination that the risk is sufficiently low to permit the omission from review of unmarked documents presumed to be unclassified.


1. General Considerations in Implementation:

Effective implementation of E.O. 12958 will depend on a strong information management program. Records management, classification management, and information release are functions that will be performed in an integrated manner throughout the DOE. Effective classification management will reduce the amount of information classified unnecessarily, lower costs, and facilitate future declassification.

To accomplish the systematic declassification review efforts associated with this plan and serve the public economically, the DOE systematic review (for DOE records) will be:

  • Focused first on those records where there is a high likelihood of both declassification and public, academic, or historical researcher interest. DOE will determine the likelihood of declassification by a survey and provide NARA with a list of candidate collections; NARA will determine degree of interest and schedule the year for review of each collection. (All applicable documents will be reviewed during the four and one-half years allowed by the Executive order).
  • Conducted in such a fashion that both declassification and public release are accomplished at very close to the same time. By public release, we mean the public has: (a) a vehicle through which to be made aware of the availability of the documents, and (b) a means of obtaining access.
  • Accomplished without redaction except in exceptional circumstances.
  • Performed in a manner designed to isolate and/or avoid the release of exemptible DOE NSI, RD, and FRD. To this end, conversations with both NARA and DOE History Division management indicate that documents at both sites which remain classified after the systematic review will be withdrawn and a withdrawal card put in their place.
  • Accessible through OpenNet on the Internet. OpenNet contains bibliographical information on documents that have been declassified since October 1994. DOE will continue to post information on OpenNet which will eventually be linked with the Government Information Locator Service (GILS) also on the Internet. GILS is the designated Government-wide source for information on declassified information under the Executive order. Locator information will be provided at the box level only on GILS.

For the other agency records, the above procedures will be modified in that the files will be selected by NARA in consultation with the other agency. DOE review participation will be by invitation. DOE will cooperate fully with other agencies when they identify potential DOE equities within their holdings. We have established an outreach program to advertise training that we offer to help in identification of RD and FRD and are prepared to extend to other agencies the authority to declassify non-exempt DOE NSI material in their possession upon completion of the training we offer.

DOE intends to implement document reviews specifically to comply with E.O. 12958. Plans are for the reviewers to perform reviews at the location where the documents are stored.

Inadvertent releases of RD/FRD material (under the Comprehensive Classification Review Program) resulted from early attempts under previous administrations' Executive orders (e.g., E.O. 11652) to rapidly declassify information. DOE developed a system of two-person reviews for RD/FRD material because of its complexity and technical nature. In recent years, we have frequently used surveying techniques to identify low risk collections (e.g., those with less technical content) for one-person reviews in order to speed up the review process. Since the Executive order addresses 25-year old NSI, we believe the implications are analogous to those one-person reviews. Consequently, we plan to use survey techniques, one-person reviews where possible, and to build a staff of predominately non-technical reviewers, which we will augment with fully trained technical experts (fully knowledgeable about nuclear weapon design criteria) where needed. The non-technical reviewers will be teamed with the technical experts on a 7-10 to 1 ratio with one Federal employee providing audit to two teams.

Since DOE information may be found in other agencies' documents, DOE has developed a training course to provide these agencies with the necessary knowledge to recognize RD/FRD. Also, DOE is developing a course that would allow other agencies to declassify some non-exempt DOE NSI information. This will promote efficiency by reducing the movement of records among agencies. Even so, DOE has concerns because of information found in other agency collections as seen in the survey. Therefore, DOE will participate, to the extent resources are available, in the reviews of other agency records which we know or suspect contain RD or FRD. We will also offer to participate in reviews at other agency sites where we have any reason to believe RD and/or FRD are contained in the other agencies' records.

DOE has begun to develop Memoranda of Agreement for coordination with other agencies, such as the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency, addressing records that they hold containing DOE information. Our intent is to gain their support in identifying files that they intend to declassify (and which may contain RD/FRD) and to provide DOE the opportunity to either concur with that decision or review the records within a specified period; e.g., 12 months.

2. Specific Approach To Implementation:

The DOE survey of classified, historically significant records was used to group records into three categories:

Category 1:
Records that are replete with exemptible NSI or for which exemption has been requested.
Category 2:
Records that have some exemptible NSI or those with subjects that suggested that they may contain exemptible NSI.
Category 3:
Records in which the survey did not find exemptible NSI and whose subjects do not indicate that there is exemptible NSI.

The DOE review program will be divided into three phases; each of these phases will cover both DOE and non-DOE records known or suspected to contain DOE weapons of mass destruction information:

Phase I:
Review of non exemptible (Category 2 and 3) pre-1976 material.
Phase II:
Review of the exempted (Category 1) pre-1976 material. (At this time, there will be no DOE file series for which exemption is requested, however there are some individual records and topical areas which are exempt.)
Phase III:
Review of post-1976 material.
Phase I - This plan insures the review of pre-1976 Category 2 and 3 file series by the year 2000. Category 2 material is first priority for review. The actual sequencing of the order in which files will be reviewed and sites will be visited will be determined at a later date.

Category 3 will be reviewed prior to release, if time permits. However, some file series may be automatically declassified by the order. The database generated by the Characterization Survey will be used to help make these decisions. Figure 3 shows the volume by location and category.

Categories 2 and 3 will be addressed in Phase I of this effort and any exempt records (Category 1) will be reviewed afterwards. Figure 4 shows the draw-down of the reviews on the totals for Categories 2 and 3.

Phase II - Systematic review of exempt pre-1976 file series as required by section 3.5 (a) of the Executive order: No file series have been submitted for exemption.

It should be noted that to address total record collections including RD/FRD and NSI., DOE has had an active systematic review program at NARA since February 1994 and in the DOE History Division at Germantown since November 1994. In addition, under the Secretary's Openness Initiative, DOE started the Large-Scale Declassification Review (LSDR) programs throughout the DOE complex. The priority for these reviews has been placed on environmental, health, and safety issues rather than on the historical value of permanent NSI records as mandated by the Executive order. However, we believe the Executive order requirements mesh well with the LSDR program as currently constituted. For DOE organizations already engaged in LSDR programs, modifications may be made to approved plans reflecting requirements of the order. DOE organizations that do not have LSDR plans in progress will write plans reflecting the requirements of E.O. 12958.

Phase III-Review of post-1976 files series:

The third phase of the DOE review program under E.O. 12958 will commence no later than April 2000, beginning with the oldest files and working forward to the most recent. This approach is designed to accommodate specific requests from either the user community or the Information Security Policy Advisory Council.

Compliance with section 3.4 (e):

Section 3.4 of E.O. 12958 requires that agencies include interim target dates for the review and/or declassification of non-exempt pre-1976 documents in the plan submitted to the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). The target dates provided in Figure 5 show the cumulative percentage of DOE NSI records to be reviewed. This supports the other agency records reviews reflected in Figure 3. We estimate that about 75 percent of the NSI documents reviewed will be declassified. This estimate is based on an extrapolation of a survey. It may change or be revised due to a re-evaluation of the original methodology.

Compliance with section 3.4 (d) of E.O. 12958:

DOE is providing under separate cover to ISOO for approval our Historical Records Declassification Guide CG-HR-1. The guide as listed in section c, number 1 identified the DOE information which must continue to be classified as well as the justification for the retention of the classification. The DOE requires in accordance with DOE Order 5650.2B, "Identification of Classified Information," each classification guide to be reviewed at least every 2 years to ensure that guides do not contradict current classification policy. This DOE policy exceeds the requirements of section 2.3 of the ISSO directive which requires updating as circumstances require, but at least every 5 years. Specifically, for the purposes of the NSI reviews, all of the following topics are considered unclassified:

  1. Any aspect of environmental, health, radiation exposure, and safety issues;
  2. Any aspect of human radiation experiments; or
  3. Any topic not covered by a DOE classification guide.

This guide will be used as the authoritative source for retaining classification of documents. For topics that are not identified within the original guide but which must have the classification retained, DOE will submit a letter of justification to ISOO amending the guide. Pending receipt of a response from ISOO, the document will remain classified.

Quality Assurance: The majority of the work will be performed by contractor reviewers. These reviewers fall into one of two general qualification levels:

  1. Technical reviewers who have a background in applied sciences or engineering. These reviewers have been trained to deal with the entire spectrum of NSI and RD/FRD issues.
  2. National Security Information reviewers who may not have the scientific or engineering qualifications of the above reviewers nor will they have received the same training on recognizing all of the RD/FRD material.

We will employ a three-level approach to quality assurance:

  1. Each reviewer will check his own work for errors.
  2. The team leader/supervisor will spot check approximately 10 percent of each team member's work.
  3. The Federal employee responsible for each team will randomly check about five percent of the team's work.

Because we will use reviewers with different qualification levels, each team will have at least one fully trained RD/FRD reviewer to assist in properly identifying RD/FRD information which may not be clear to the NSI reviewers.


No file series are proposed for exemption.


In support of the DOE's Openness Initiative, the DOE has already established a publicly accessible database of records that have been declassified and released to the public. This database, DOE OpenNet, was activated on the Internet in December 1994. In compliance with section 3.8 of E.O. 12958, DOE has conferred with NARA and will place access information for DOE's publicly accessible database on GILS.

OpenNet provides the public access to a source of document references on a wide variety of topics such as historical, environmental, public health issues, etc. relevant to DOE operations. The system contains information on documents which are unclassified or have been declassified and released for public viewing. The available information includes title, author, location, and person to contact to obtain access to the documents.

OpenNet contains information on collections of documents relating to human radiation experiments, nuclear testing, radiation releases, and fallout. This information, while not a complete listing of all the documents which are currently available to the public, will be continuously updated to include other documents as they are released.

DOE is considering revisions to the OpenNet. Changes under consideration include providing finding aids at the box level within the collection for all material reviewed under the Executive order.

DOE's OpenNet database may be accessed through the DOE "Home Page" on Internet at the following address:

or Opennet may be directly accessed at:

Information on OpenNet will also be accessible through GILS. The details of that link have not been finalized yet. When they are completed, the DOE will inform the public.

Appendix 1 - DOE Organizational Chart

DOE Organizational Chart

Table of Contents

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