Capital Hilton Hotel
South American Room
16th and K Streets, N.W.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Why don't we get underway. My name is Richard Meserve, and I am here as the chairman of the Openness Advisory Panel.
For the benefit of the audience, I should indicate that this is the first meeting of the Advisory Panel. The Advisory Panel was formed to provide assistance to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board.
Our charter requests that we provide advice to the Secretary through the Advisory Board on classification and declassification issues. This is, as I mentioned, an opening meeting. It provides an opportunity for the panel to get to know one another, to hear from the public on the very important issues that are the center of our work, and provides an opportunity for the panel to develop a road map for its work over the coming months.
I am particularly pleased this morning. As all of you have seen, we have been joined by Secretary O'Leary, who is going to open the meeting with a discussion of this issue and of some of her aspirations for this group.
I am particularly pleased that she was able to join us because, as I am sure all of you know, one of the great accomplishments of her term as Secretary has been the remarkable changes that have been put in place by her in the area of declassification and achieving greater openness.
There is probably no action that the Department could take that is more important in restoring public confidence and public trust in the Department and its activities. She has done some remarkable things in terms of changing policy, putting in place a variety of activities to inform the public about actions of the Department.
I think that the most recent figure I have seen is that during her tenure more than 10 million pages of documents have been declassified and made available to the public.
This is clearly something that is very important to her. I think it is very important to the Department and to the United States people as a whole, and I am very pleased that she was able to join us.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: Thank you. Thank you so much.
I was thinking about this task group in Moscow, I think it was, last week. It was last week. In my private meeting with Minister Viktor Mikhailov from MINATOM, just before we started our public session for the Nuclear Energy Subcommittee of the Energy Committee of Chernomyrdin, he handed me flowers which, to those of you who know Viktor and our history, it might tell you something about what a far road we have traveled in the three years, as it was August the 4th since I first started to deal with him, and the customary gifts that ministers change with one another.
Then he slapped the side of his head and said, "No, I've forgotten something else," and he brought out to me in English a bound compendium that reports and relates the nuclear tests conducted in the former Soviet Union.
I said to him, "Of all the things you have given me, the beautiful flowers, this wonderful lacquer box that I immediately turned over to the Government if you are interested in that stuff--it will be in GSA for auction next year, and you can probably find it, very nice, I might add--but was this compendium, and it was a response to a challenge I had put to him 18 months before.
So, if you want to mark the work in Openness, the results are being seen, and sometimes they are seen very quietly in a somewhat opulent office near the Kremlin.
If you want another marker of the challenge before us and why it is so important that this awesome group with its many years of experience be pulled to this table, I would cite to you today's story running in every major press and, I think, on the AP wire regarding the agreement between Russia and the United States of America on the text for the Comprehensive Test Band Treaty.
All of these initiatives, I think, stem from work that has begun here, and as I look within this room and around this table, as so many of you here who own it, what is the ethic now on why am I asking so many of you who serve so often in varied ways to serve yet again?
As Richard has mentioned, we can quantify success in this area of openness, and I believe that we can also say that we have struck the right balance in terms of recognizing the information that the public needs to have for its various legitimate purposes, and we will come to that in your charge, and at the same time maintain a very tight band around the information necessary to be kept secret, to keep the Nation secure. What is there further to do?
Well, Richard, if you read the press the way I do, which is to start with the DOE clips which from time to time gets to be a very dreary pastime, you will know that someone on some committee--and Joan probably knows because she probably had to face them to testify--indicated, "Well, I don't know what this openness is that they're celebrating, but they're still not doing a good enough job," and I think the criticism was that we are still tending to classify much more than we can declassify. Those are some of the issues with which you must grapple.
I don't need to recant to you where we have come. I think where we need to get focussed, if I were to do one thing today, it would be to point out to you that there was maybe three weeks ago a series of articles in the Washington Post that covered the work from Harvard and other institutions on the public trust for Government, and the focus was on Federal Government, and the interesting thing was between 1992 and 1995, there has been an increase in public trust, at least on the measure of can you trust the Government to do the right thing most of the time. I thought to myself, my God, could we have had anything to do with that.
Well, I am not certain, and we never are certain. If you went around and looked at many of the DOE customers who are represented by people at this table and you ask people living nearby our sites have they been in a position now to engage their Government and feel much more comfortable about the engagement because they are better armed, then I think the answer would be yes from those individuals.
I want to cite you some examples of how that benefits us all nationally. We all like to drag out the site-specific advisory committee at Fernald and talk about its engagement, now more knowledgeable than before, holding classified information that can shape decisions of management to cut cost by speeding cleanup and determining that some things need to be done now as opposed to later and other things perhaps never.
I could point to the same thing with respect to activities at Hanford. Those are all good news pieces, but I don't want to fool you to think that while we are saving money on the out-years, we aren't spending great sums of money to accomplish the goals that we have set out for ourselves.
Bryan, Joan, Ken Baker, and all of the people who are here from NN, whatever those numbers are--now you see I have been here too long, as I have tried to call you those strange alphabets--will tell you that the requirements are much greater than the budgetary wherewithal.
So I want to begin by discussing with you the realities of our universe which is broad and which is why you have come to the table. They are as broad as taking the work from Al Narath, as he chaired the fundamental review of our classification system, to ask questions about what legal and statutory authority the Department ought to be seeking from device coming out of Al's work.
It would be very useful, Al, from my perspective, and Richard, if your recommendations with respect to legislation were reviewed by this group, and what, of course, one would hope for is that there was some commonality of point of view, but no matter, I always seek to be satisfied. So satisfy me or surprise me as you will.
I want to come now to the question of priorities and come back to the varied customers for this information that we now seek to make more available to our public.
As Richard and I were talking earlier this morning, he forced me to begin to think about the fact that the customer requirement is going to be different at every site. The needs at Fernald are going to be quite different from the needs here in Washington, D.C. and the needs for the scientific and technical community yet, again, different.
As we look at constrained budgets and requirements not only to meet our own requirements, but to meet the requirements of the Executive Order of the President, which may not necessarily address the needs of our customer base, how do we set those priorities, and is there some, God help us, formula for the various needs of the constituencies, and do those formulas or needs of requirements present themselves at a distinctly different way at each of our sites? I am not certain, but we need some insight and help into that.
With respect to the need to get the work done, which is the physical labor of the review for declassification, which Bryan and his people in Germantown and around the complex can tell you is a very careful process that requires a lot of human intellect, which means time and people that we don't always get enough of for any purpose, what is the capability of technology to use non-human intelligence to help us begin to solve this problem?
How much do we have to spend in order to get that capability? More important for the longer term, what can be the future of the use of artificial intelligence to help us now get out of the habit of continuing to classify more than we declassify. How do we solve that problem?
For the near term and maybe for the longer term, we have a habit of looking to the end of the first Clinton administration, and Dan here likes to talk about victory laps in some sort of public celebration of what has been accomplished. I am a lot older than Dan, and I normally think about, my God, how do we hold what has been started and give it the opportunity to flourish.
So, as you go through this examination, a piece that I have always learned to do in the Department of Energy is ask the question what are the budgetary priorities that come out of your examination of the requirements of the customer base it costs the complex, but perhaps more importantly, what are the responsibilities and the rules of the individuals within the Department to continue this extraordinary progress to giving the public the information it needs to solve its issues of science, technology, national security, safety, health, and, finally, public confidence.
I understand, and I say that looking at the proxy for all of the people who do this work, Bryan, that the best work comes from an enlightened, empowered civil service with key guidance and understanding that the rules of the road won't change on them because more frightening than anything is to put your heart and soul into an initiative and finally wake up one morning and realize that the game has changed.
Often the game is represented by a budget. It would be nice to know for the longer term what would be available. I would like your advice on how we might get our arms--I see you laughing at me, Tom--how we might get our arms around that challenge because the funding will wax and wane.
I think I want to close now and confess to you that I won't be here very long. I think that is a good idea because you will get to work faster if you don't have me to worry about, but I would like to use the remaining time to hear from each of you what are the priorities that I may not have mentioned that the group needs to hear and you need me to respond to before I see you again.
I want to thank you all. I want to especially thank Eric Willis, who I understand has cut his vacation short to be with us.
I wonder about you, Eric.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: I want to, once again, thank each and every one of you for serving, and I hope now, Richard, that we can use this time for discussion between me and the extremely capable, experienced, and very diverse--and I must admit to you how comforted I am by the diversity of the points of views represented here of those of you who have agreed to serve. So I look forward to hearing your comments with respect to the priorities that I have outlined.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Well, I am going to turn to members of the Advisory Panel to give them an opportunity to respond to the Secretary's comments.
Let me just say at the outset that I think that our task as a panel has been made much easier by the fact that over several years you have been asking the questions, receiving the answers, and taking action in the area of openness, and it is clear that we really have an opportunity to build on the very significant progress that you have made. That makes our task, I think, all the more important, but all the easier.
I also note that, chatting with Mr. Willis last night, he not only cut his vacation short, but he flew from England yesterday.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: Oh, my word.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I think he had a 30-day, to join us last evening. So he is exemplary service right from the very outset.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: You will, of course, give your wife our compliments. Is she still talking to you?
DR. WILLIS: Rudimentary.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Comments from the panel?
DR. SESSOMS: Madam Secretary, I think you are absolutely correct when you suggest that there are going to be site-specific recommendations, but I think they are going to have to be area-specific recommendations, also, certainly on the environmental, health and safety side. It is going to look very different than on the nuclear weapon side.
What for you are the most pressing priorities? Which areas need to be examined in some detail first?
SECRETARY O'LEARY: In the third year and, I believe, just about to be the eighth month, I will stand where I have always stood. I continue to believe that the issues involving environment, health and safety are key and critical to the broadest base of our constituency, and any information that enables that debate, that discussion, the expansion of knowledge, I believe is extremely important.
If you want me to do hierarchy, which is always very dangerous, I put the opening of a scientific storehouse, perhaps, next, but I am willing to have debate and have people push back on those priorities.
MR. CAVANAUGH: Actually, Madam Secretary, I just want to say a word of congratulations on this initiative.
I remember the first time I heard about it, I think I was the only one in the room who is now in the room. We were at Berkeley, and a large and angry crowd assembled, a longstanding Berkeley tradition, which is to confront a Federal official, make them pay for the sins of past administrations.
There is a group in Berkeley who does this, and they are well known to those of us who work in this area. I would have to say that on this occasion, they were totally overmatched.
The Secretary's response was, in part, at least to make a commitment to this initiative, which I am not sure many of them believed, but which completely overcame their initial rhetoric, since it was a complete response to their initial rhetoric.
We are here. It is an extraordinary group that has been assembled. I think the charter is exactly what you committed to then, and we are obviously going to do it.
So I would just like to express my own appreciation for your setting this in motion and our commitment to see it through, and I think we are well launched today.
I just wanted to let you know that I remember at least a moment when it was all foreshadowed rather effectively.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: Thank you.
It is very interesting to understand how some of our toughest and our most watched initiatives get started.
As I think back to our time in the Department of Energy, it has for me, more often than response to public need after, having some clear understanding of history.
So there are the people who have the task of railing at the Government and from time to time can get a useful thing, a valuable thing done, if we both listen.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Al?
DR. NARATH: Well, I support everything that has been said up until now. Let me try a slightly different thought.
Words and phrases in this town don't age very well. They quickly become buzz words. If I have a concern, it has to do with how one institutionalizes an initiative like this one because the word "openness" itself, in time, will be one that people will no longer respect.
I wonder whether you can share with us some thoughts as to how we might help in changing this initiative into a permanent change of attitude and culture.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: That is interesting that Dan should, first of all, be sitting on my right at all, Reicher here.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: If he has an agenda here, silently sitting, never scheming, it would be the institutionalization of the initiative and all of the activities that fall under it.
I, too, Al have had your concern about the word "openness." We understand it. It is, you know, code for so many things.
We talked about this for a bit this morning as well. I don't think you institutionalize a thing over four years. You probably don't do it over eight years. It takes a constancy in leadership at the top, which is not a thing we have the luxury of every planning for in Washington, D.C.
It takes clear guidance that does not change when leadership changes. I often believe it takes having been made so much a fabric of an institution that people no longer question it and folks just see it as a part of their activity, which is why I asked you to relate to roles and responsibilities.
Let us be blunt. It much depends upon what happens globally over the next two or three years.
The course we are on now is extremely hopeful. We can't describe it anymore by calling it the "post-cold war era." It needs some other name.
I would like to call it the era of engagement, but that doesn't seem to have caught on either.
We have to empower our civil service, our career civil service, the senior members of it, to believe the peace that we believe in now won't step into dangerous waters.
That is a 10-year process, and what you have argued to us in your subtle fashion--God, you must be a Republican--is that "openness" is not the right word. "Openness" is not the right word, as you fear over time someone else will come in and not think that a good idea.
Can we have some discussion on that? Is "openness" too much a code word to this team, this class, and should we try to better define our work?
MS. ALEXANDER: In the business community, we talk about openness all the time, open discussion, open door, open dialogue, no hidden information, empowering people because they know what is happening all the way to the top. So, for me, it is a very relevant term.
DR. WILLIS: I think I subscribe to what Al has just said. I think there is a danger, and I think there is a danger of reaction because "openness" could be used as a derogatory term for going soft on secrets. I think we have to walk that very fine line between the two, apropos that.
Al has just finished this fundamental review, which I looked through the report on the plane before the first martini, and it looked equally good afterwards, actually.
DR. WILLIS: The one thing that stuck in my mind was the necessity to carry through the legislation that you recommend.
I belong enough in this town to know that things don't get killed. They are allowed to die on the vine very tortuously, and I think one of the things that this panel can do is to be the watchdog into the next administration to ensure that this thing does not wither on the vine.
MS. WEISS: I think "openness" is the right word, and I will confess it sounded awkward to me when you first used it, but I think that is spread from you well beyond, but I also think that it embodies the concept that openness is more than declassification, successibility in a meaningful way, availability, gaining intellectual control in some fashion of what it is that the Department of Energy owns, what records are owned all over this far-flung complex.
My view is we ought to stick with it. It has been a winner so far.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Let me add a thought on this. I think "openness" is a word that has been very important in terms of changing the culture, changing the attitudes, and building trust.
It is important that we find a way, and maybe this panel can help in that, to make sure that the word is seen as reflecting a recognition of the need for some balance; that there is some information which is just singularly important that we maintain classified.
If "openness" is seen as a code word for the inappropriate disclosure of information that should be held classified, then the initiative will fail and will not be institutionalized.
We have got to find a way to make sure that if we are going to achieve institutionalization that we see that, in fact, the way to best protect the information which should remain classified is by narrowly defining that information and then truly protecting it and not having it buried in a pile of other things that don't need to be classified and none of it gets protected the way it should.
So I think there is an element of the task that you have defined that is very important that this panel will have in mind that there is a need for balance.
Let me also say that the fundamental question was asked here how do we institutionalize it, and let me turn that question back to the panel in a certain respect. There is an opportunity for this group through its work to keep these issues as part of the public agenda, and we ought to see that as an element of our task as to do what we can to make sure in appropriate ways that this important initiative that you have started is one that has perpetuated.
MR. REICHER: If I might just respond, I think ultimately institutionalizing openness, or whatever one might choose to call it, I think is going to best happen if we can demonstrate some real results, something positive that our Government gains, our taxpayers and citizens gain, our Congress gain; for example, demonstrating that, in fact, you can enhance national security, demonstrating that, in fact, you can drive down cleanup costs, and ultimately demonstrating the public trust is enhanced, public trust in a variety of Government actions that are important.
If we can make that case and we can continue to make that case, I think ultimately there will continue to be support for this notion of a balanced opening up of Government records and increasing access to those records.
MR. CAVANAUGH: I think it just ought to be acknowledged this is not something that just started today, as you noted in your opening remarks. There is now a several-year record of opening formerly classified documents.
The public and private institution reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. In a Congress not noted for nay reserve at all and criticizing the Department of Energy, I do not recall any something deficiencies noted in the process of opening. Clearly, the record has been one of great care to ensure that an ought-to-be-protected State is protected, and I am assuming our job is to build on a good record rather than assuming we are starting from scratch.
DR. COTTON: I would just add one specific thing on a step that can be taken to institutionalize, and that is to continue, really, as fast as you can with the promulgation of a new regulation as opposed to a DOE order on restricted data. I think going to a public process like that and institutionalizing it that way is a good near-term step you can do.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: When will we have that order, right?
MR. SIEBERT: I think the good news is that the Department of Defense has concurred in the order.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: The regulations.
MR. SIEBERT: I think Janet O'Connell is somewhere in here, and has done really good work in working with the Department of Defense. That is where the rubber hits the road, and they have had many, many meetings. We got their concurrence.
We also rapidly got NRC's concurrence, but according to our lawyers, only those two Departments handle concurrent events before publication. So all that remains to be done now is to get internal DOE coordination, and the General Counsel Nordhouse took it home with him this weekend and worked on it vigorously.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: What is your timeline?
MR. REICHER: This is to put a proposed regulation on the street.
MR. SIEBERT: Most of the proposed rulemaking, I would say in four or five weeks.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: We are talking of late August?
MR. SIEBERT: You always do this to me.
MS. HAWTHORNE: We are hoping to do it a little sooner than that.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: All right.
MS. HAWTHORNE: We are hoping the first week in August, if we really can push it.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: Thank you. It is nice to have something to shoot for. Now we know.
DR. COTTON: It goes in the tickler file.
DR. COTTON: I should add, by the way, to correct the record, I was laughing sympathetically with the problem, trying to get stable funding for anything in this climate.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: I understand.
MR. ALBRIGHT: I want to say that I share the view that "openness" is a good word, and it has been extremely helpful in restoring trust and getting real science done about radiation exposures around sites and to workers.
I personally feel it has been an extremely important initiative, and I think part of it that has been very useful and actually has built support is some of the initiatives to release information, organized information, like Mikhailov's report would be an example, the plutonium inventory work.
I personally worry that some of that has been slowed down, and yet, if it was sped up, it could be helpful, such as moving forward with the report on having enriched uranium. I think that would be very helpful.
My understanding is that if it has not ground to a halt, it is certainly not moving very quickly.
Another issue, I think, that is a recurring problem is just resistance to change, and at Rocky Flats where I am part of an advisory group we have had major conflicts over the past year with the contractor on openness and declassification.
You mentioned there was a change in leadership, the contractor changed, and the culture that had been generated in the old contractor was not shared in the new contractor.
So I think that process is moving forward because of your leadership, but it will be toward more openness.
I want to mention a very specific thing. I think there is still trouble with FOIA requests. I am actually personally involved in one that got lost in the system. I am told it was, first of all, met with great resistance to releasing the information in DOE, and then when it went over to an intelligence agency, it simply disappeared. So I think some of the process questions need to be continually looked at.
I will say this. I consider FOIA very insensitive or nonsensitive information, but politically sensitive perhaps. I think that I mention it because probably many people have had this problem where there are filters being put on the information released that perhaps shouldn't be there.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: Thank you.
I want to follow up with Dan or someone on your specific case because it will give us a case study.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Any other comments from the panel?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: If not, Madam Secretary, I would like to thank you very much for having been so helpful in getting us launched this morning. This is enormously helpful to the panel and to me.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: Thank you, Richard.
I have tried to thank the entire group. I now want to turn to you and thank you once again for agreeing to serve the public. You bring the right breadth of experience both in dealing with the Department and in dealing with this issue of public information. So I expect great things from this group.
I would like to share with you my sense that while I believe it is very important to inform the second Clinton administration on these issues, I don't want you to rush to judgment or get through a review. I think it is very important for this group to build some confidence in each other and to build some confidence in the sets of priorities that you establish as you begin to look at the benefit we can bring to the American public.
I hope that you will see early spring as an appropriate time for a formal report and look forward to a briefing to the Secretary of Energy.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Thank you very much.
SECRETARY O'LEARY: I would like to get Bryan to stay up at that table because he is going to do most of this work. So, Bryan, you just don't get to slip out.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: The agenda indicates that Bob Hanfling was scheduled to give some opening remarks. He is the chairman of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, and I understand because of a scheduling problem he was not able to be with us early this morning, but that he may appear at some point during the day and we will give him an opportunity to speak at that time.
Our first presentation this morning is from Bryan Siebert who is the director of the Office of
Declassification. Bryan is going to seek to sort of describe the activities that have been underway
in the Department and to try to frame some of the issues for us.
Table of Contents
MR. SIEBERT: Good morning. I guess my sound is working fine.
Let me thank you for coming. The Secretary has said in a few short words probably what you are going to hear from me in a little longer discussion. My style of briefing basically is to try to appeal to the left- and the right-hand side of the brain, to try to run through information fairly quickly. I won't talk about every word on every Vugraph, and I will try to make it as helpful to you in your deliberations on what the Department should do in the future as I can.
This whole initiative really started with the statement by the President that he felt that openness was critical to the accountability of the Government to the citizens.
Since an articulation is unfamiliar to many past Presidents and it really set the tone for the direction we are going to go, some of you are more familiar with the way we do business than others. I am going to talk a little bit about that, but, first, I would like to give you sort of an interesting example of openness in action.
A couple of years ago, there was an Executive Decision on the part of the White House that for the purposes of U.S. nonproliferation advantage, we needed to buy some special nuclear materials from Kazakhstan.
Sitting where it was, it was subject to theft. It was subject to illegal sale. So the idea came to mind that the United States should buy the material and ship it to Oak Ridge for better safekeeping.
In fact, what is interesting about this, that this program was seven months in the planning, it was seven days in the execution, but it only took seven hours to declassify the information when the Secretary and other senior Cabinet officials went over to the Pentagon and released it. So we are happy to see that that progression was directly related to how sensitive the information was.
Indeed, we declassified certain parts of the operation. It was not all declassified because we had to maintain our credibility for the possibility of buying materials in the future. We didn't say who we gave the money to and how much we gave, but most of the potential classified information was declassified at the appropriate time.
In fact, if this exercise had taken place four years ago, and I was around four years ago, it is very likely that, except through leaks and misinformation, the public might never have found out about actually what had happened. So it was a reversal, really, of change in the way we do business.
One way I look upon it is the democratization, that word right there, of how the Government involves the public in the very processes of classifying and declassifying information.
Nothing is more boring than to have somebody talk to you about organizational charts and that type of thing about how this office is organized. Some of you are intimately acquainted with it, some less so. So I am not going to give you that kind of little introduction.
I will say that the Atomic Energy Act describes for us especially the kind of information we should protect, and the President has directed us to protect NSI security information. So those two classes of information is what the office is responsible for.
Under the Act, you will see nuclear weapons design is hardly new, these types of things of what the Atomic Energy Act requires to be classified as restricted data unless removed from that category.
The way we do business, I will try to hone this down for you so you can just look at it in terms of what the operation involves. I work for Joan, and we have 12 percent of her staff, but we have 47 percent of the technical degrees in science and engineering.
This individual, then, this classification officer has been trained and certified. In fact, I would like to say that only two classes of people in the Department, in effect, are licensed to do business. One of them is lawyers, and the other is the people who do the classification business.
Technically, we have moved the classification guides, which are paper copies, into the computers. We are probably in the forefront of the Government in doing that. What this individual does is he looks at the document, and he checks the guide on the computers or the appropriate guides, in the plural, and he makes a decision is it classified or not, and if it is classified, at what level is it classified. This is done one page at a time. It is very, very slow.
I am hoping this is turning your mind on because the chapter in the book about the work that you did at Dupont is extremely interesting. For those of you who haven't read it, he led Dupont into the AI era, shall I call it, and although the book was written in '89, I read the chapter a couple of weeks ago. Some of the things that you found are exactly the same kind of things we found, but I don't think quite in the same technical, but are very helpful.
Another thing important for our office to understand is when you declassify information, you are not necessarily declassifying documents.
We have under Hazel O'Leary declassified more information than the entire history from 1946 to 1992 of the AEC at DOE. So we have done yeoman's work in that area, and much information has been put out. However, we have got something like 300 million pages. Although we have declassified and reviewed for classification millions of pages, it doesn't even approach the size of the problem. So it is important to understand the difference between declassifying information and getting those documents out to contain that declassified information.
I am not going to take you through this chart, but it is something for us to be proud of. This is probably the best system in the Federal Government for declassifying information. It brings the appropriate technical people in at the right time. It brings in other Cabinet departments, such as the Department of Defense when it is required.
When we make a declassification decision, it is with great consideration of the consequences of being wrong. So we do a good job.
Also, you should note that when the founders wrote the Atomic Energy Act, and they did a good job, in my view, when it was written, they didn't want this accumulation of data over here. They wanted to have a continuous review of RD, so that some of it wouldn't stay under the Restricted Data column.
I will say that that requirement has been largely ignored until Dr. Narath did his fundamental review.
Another thing about the operation of Office of Declassification is very important here. It is a nationwide operation. It is not myself and Roger Heusser and my staff sitting in Washington doing this.
Our policies that come from Washington are supposed to be represented in the same decisions on the same piece of information across the country. What is interesting about that is that--I put over here a tea kettle and a teacup. The financing for the Field Operations--somebody mentioned sitting on an advisory team at Rocky Flats. None of the funding for the classification responsibilities in the field, either the Federal personnel or the contractors, comes through my office. We have absolutely no say in how much money is spent on that function in terms of where the programmatic money goes.
It comes from basically Defense programs and the Waste Management Office. Those are the two big pots of money in the Department. So, while we do have a policy responsibility in making sure this system works, the dollars are detached from that process.
Our transition to openness, the opportunity, what the Secretary was just talking about, this is where we came from. At a point in time, we had one customer, the Department of Defense. The cold war itself was the driver with regards to what we felt was in our national security interest. There is no question there was overclassification. It was felt it was important to keep the public at bay. It was a different sort of mentality.
That mentality has clearly not totally left us, but when the Secretary came in, she recognized what the President said about the openness being important to accountability. Then she went around the country and she visited thousands upon thousands of stakeholders from San Francisco to Oak Ridge to Savannah River, and she listened to what they wanted, what did they want their Government to do for them.
In the process of coming across with the stakeholders, she decided that she needed to create the Openness Initiative to serve the public because that is really what the basic idea is, to be a customer-oriented organization, to deliver on promises that are made, to build trust and accountability. Therefore, you can see there we needed to have a new paradigm. We need to change the paradigm.
To quote probably the most famous American poet, Robert Frost, we did take the path less traveled. It would have been so easy to have done nothing back when this opportunity showed up and not grasp the opportunity to move ahead, but we took the tougher path and we moved out.
Starting out, there were several things that we knew from the beginning, and one of them was you just can't salute openness and walk away from it. You have got to have a commitment to it over a period of time. We knew that from the beginning.
We also knew that we would have to take personal and organizational work. It was going to be unpopular, and there would be ways people would try to do things to make it less effective. So we would be taking risk.
As Dan Reicher stated just a second ago, you would have to show results. If people were going to have a view that this was valuable to the country, then why was it valuable. So we knew we were going to have to show results, and we were going to have to do something totally foreign to the Office of--at that time--Classification and to me and all who worked in there, and that is start asking the public what do you want your Government to do for you, what is it that you expect us to do, and how can we work together to make it work. So those are the things we knew when we began the process.
Then there are some things that we learned along the way. One of them is that the Secretary's continued commitment to this process has been critical. Without that, without the help that she has given a long the way, we would not be successful. We wouldn't be sitting here today.
Secondly, we came up with a really different mental paradigm of the value of the citizens to the Government's process. There are numerous people in this room who are in the Office of Declassification who can cite you example after example where they have met with stakeholders. The stakeholders are at least as committed as the Federal employees to making the Government work. They are at least as well educated as we are, and they are willing to work with us.
It was a revelation and quite valuable to us to understand that this is an untapped asset for making this process work.
Secondly, along the way, there was more resistance than I thought that there would be, and we had the philosophy we are not going to give up. We are going to continue to move this thing forward the best that we can.
One of the ways to do that was to develop allies. Over here, we have Ken Baker. He is sitting over there. Tom Grumbly has been instrumental. Ellie's boss, Tara O'Toole, Ken Luango, Werner and others have been very helpful, and outside the Department, Senator Moynihan, Jesse Helms, and that crew on the Secrecy Commission have been very supportive of what we are doing.
The Secretary has personally worked with John Deutch when he was at the Department of Defense in terms of getting things declassified and moving out in that direction.
We have developed good relationships with the CIA over time. It took a lot of time to get it started, but now it is working. So we have started to develop an interagency cooperative network.
We had to redefine for ourselves what NSI security was. Obviously, it is the issue of classifying information or not, but another concept of NSI security we had to add to the definition was that a public can't feel comfortable about its Government's NSI security positions unless it has the information necessary to make the judgments about what that Government is doing, and to requote the President, what we are talking about is an informed citizenry as essential to the democratic process.
So we came up with a new driver. We replaced the old jalopy with the paradigm the Secretary has made famous now, that openness leads to accountability, and increased accountability leads to trust. Both of those things, that whole paradigm, reflects well on both our NSI security and our nonproliferation functions in the Department.
I don't want to make you think this is some sort of sociological exercise. There is no question that very evil men in countries try to steal the information that we regard as essential to our national security.
Al Narath was quoted in the New York Times in February saying "I never envision the time when nuclear weapons information is going to be released to the public," design information, for example.
These people are very deadly serious. Dave just got back from Iraq. I think he will confirm that this issue is not over with. So that, we do have a body of information that must be protected, and the stakes are very real in that effort to protect it.
The Openness Initiative has been characterized by an effort to get information out to the public. The Secretary has had a number of releases to the public with regards to large amounts of classified information, the last being in February.
Tom Cotton and Dick Meserve have been instrumental in helping us at the National Academy level. They came out with a great study in August of last year and this year.
Just yesterday, I got the updated analysis of how we are doing in classification, which I haven't thoroughly read yet, but I think it is very supportive of where we are going. In other words, there have been a number of things going forth making this initiative effective.
You mentioned the regulations. So I won't talk about it again. Today, we got the star up there. You guys are the stars, the first meeting of the Openness Advisory Panel.
In terms of some of the things we learned from the National Academy--I am not going to go through every one, but one of them was, hey, why don't you guys think about changing the paradigm. Instead of having people justify why something should be declassified, why don't you make them justify why it ought to be classified, and that would be extremely helpful. It is a good idea, and we have got to figure out how to make that work.
In terms of the fundamental review, I will talk a little bit more about it later, but the review team has identified 136 areas that need to remain classified and better protected, 68 areas that they believe should be declassified, and they had made substantial recommendations in the policy level dealing with the Atomic Energy Act amendments.
What is interesting, when Dr. Narath took this study, he said, "I am not going to take this study to do a study. I want to get the actual information reviewed, and I want to make comments and recommendations on the information." That is exactly what he did.
Also important for the concept of openness is that declassification is not the only element as this concept of being an open department has spread. There are a number of other areas that the Secretary has taken on and made significant improvements in that I think are important to understand where we are going.
For example, in the FOIA process, while Dave Albright made comments about not being able to get his FOIA, I understand that case. It is somewhat regrettable what is going on there, but the overall story is very positive.
Look at what it was in '92 where it took 1,196 days to get the average FOIA out, and we were only doing 475 a year. Under Hazel O'Leary, she hired a lady named Gayla Sessoms, who has been doing yeoman's work to move this forward. We have shot down the time significantly. I know that is a long period of time, but look where we started.
This area was a nonstarter for every Secretary of Energy up to this point. They could have cared less about this FOIA process. I never heard a Secretary talk about how important FOIA was to the Department until the Secretary came, and look at the production rate. It has almost quadrupled. We have done a very good job of moving ahead in that area. Clearly, we are not through, but we have done good work.
People did talk about the site-specific advisory board. They were chartered to bring the citizens into the decision-making process on the cleanup responsibilities. They have been rendering good advice to us.
The Secretary was careful about how she articulated the financial savings, but in one area, for example, Fernald, the citizens recommended cleanup accelerated plans that would save, perhaps, $3 billion in the future.
At Idaho, citizens said, "We don't think you really need to review this site for residential development in 30 years. We really think it is more appropriate to do in 100 years." Well, that has significant implications for costs in the future.
There has been 145 meetings and 140 recommendations, and you might say, well, that is nice, but quantitatively, what are you talking about. Well, some data has been released this year that I found quite useful, which was to show that for every major stakeholder group, when the question was does the site-specific advisory board process lead to more acceptable sit solutions and actions, the answer was yes, no matter what group you happened to be in.
This is a little bit about the methodology in case you are curious about that, a mail survey, 580 respondents, with a 66-percent response rate.
You were talking earlier about a site-specific situation. Here, you will see work in progress. Just like the rest of openness, just like you would expect, like an incomplete Renoir or Van Gogh, you will see that some sites are not as well thought of in terms of the effectiveness of the SEAB process as others, but that is to be expected as you are moving forward.
I think when you see the number, the 50-percent level or higher, it appears to be a very positive process from the point of view of the people involved in it.
Al Alm is the manager of that program these days. I am not going to bore you with a lot of quotes, but I thought this was pretty effective in terms of putting into one simple sentence the importance that he sees in terms of the taxpayers leading the Department. How many times do you see that in other departments, I ask?
Here is another example of the culmination between an environmental issue and the Office of Declassification. We have an office who is supposed to solve the problem, what do you do with all the materials that you take out of nuclear weapons. Once you take them out for arms control purposes, what do you do with it?
We are working with that group to set up a classification guide, and that guide on the front end is going to try to make positive that we understand the public has a right to know and that the classification guide from the very beginning minimizes the amount of classified information and maximizes the amount that people are going to be able to get. So that, the process of reviewing information in the future will be cheaper, and it will be faster because there is going to be less withheld.
An example of a topic that will be unclassified in that guide is when a worker gets a dose rate from exposure to neutron and gamma rays, it isn't going to be classified. It is going to be immediately available to him or anybody else doing epidemiological work.
I am not going to get into this in great detail, but in Tara O'Toole's office, fantastic things have been done. This young lady here is responsible for the first bullet up there, the 250,000 pages of identification of the information and making it available to a significant public inquiry on that matter about a year and a half ago to two years ago.
Health studies. We are now clearing epidemiologists to look at the health records of our people, no matter where they may be, so that classifications does not stay in the way of an effective health analysis.
That office also is putting information on webs, and down at the bottom, you say, "Ho hum, what is CBER talking about finding aids for?" I will tell you what, if you are on the outside and you are looking for information in the Department, you are going to be damn grateful that they try to find that stuff for you and tell you where to go for it.
Page is shaking her head there because that is very true.
It looks like it is insignificant, but that office is trying to make it easier for people to get information by pointing them in the right direction.
Here is Dr. Till. He is doing epidemiological studies for us. He is sort of a Thomas Jefferson kind of guy. He is a farmer, a retired admiral, and a Ph.D. He wrote to the Secretary and he said, "Your declassification efforts have been critical to me and from two points of view. One of them is my technical work has more credibility, and the declassification has also given me credibility with the public." So he thought enough of the process to show that that was what should have been done, the declassification.
Defense Programs also has been doing valuable work. I haven't talked to the Secretary for maybe several months before this meeting, but she brought up the nuclear test thing, showed that Mikhailov would maybe try to match us.
We released this, I believe, in '93. Is that right, Roger?
MR. HEUSSER: I thought it was February of this year.
MR. SIEBERT: Yes. We added information to it. We released that one in February, but we released that two years before in which we declassified the number of hidden tasks, secret tasks, and other things.
So Defense Programs helped us with that and they helped us with this. This is the first time in nuclear power in the history of the world, shall I say, that has told people where plutonium came from, where we used it, where it is right now, and it is all on an unclassified basis.
Also, Dave Albright mentioned the highly enriched uranium report. That program is being worked on as a combination between the nonproliferation people and the Defense Programs people.
The Secretary mentioned improvements in public trust. It is starting from very low levels. At this point in time, Money Magazine was showing that 1 out of 10 Americans had the view that the public could trust the Government in the decisions they made, but a DOE survey showed that in 1995, there was an increase in trust, and the people believed that declassified information would be furnished to the public.
So we come to you, the Advisory Panel, a collection of degreed experience of notable individuals who may be able to help us move this thing in the future.
I have used sort of a little analogy here to lock in success. We figure that the door to openness, what we would like to have is to keep the doors that are open, open, because we have opened some now, and to open new doors in the future.
You will see here that there is a lot of different ways that we thought about doing it. We are not going to go over each one of these keys with you. They are just ideas that we have had. I was just going to throw some ideas out in the time that I have. I can't go over them all, of course.
The idea, as the Secretary implied, is the institutionalization, as Dr. Narath said, important to put the process into some kind of text that has longevity into the future because this time will be upon us before we know.
What I did is I took all of your interesting backgrounds and I categorized them as to what area you might be interested in the most. I think public accessibility to information is one of the higher-ranking ones.
What is important to know here is that if you are on the outside of the Department or if you are in the maze somewhere in terms of not an individual or an employee, but a person looking for information, we have a hell of a problem in the Department of Energy. The problem is that we have no idea at all about how to organize information on a departmental-wide basis.
My office has got Openet. Another office may have something else on the computer. You might be able to use the finding aids from ES&H, but we have no methodology to draw what is at Savannah River into, what is in Defense Programs, what is at Oak Ridge, across this vast system of ours.
In fact, I called the lady in charge of management in that area the other day and said how many people would you say are devoted to this effort. She could identify maybe two people who were looking upon the way the Department of Energy is organized in terms of information and availability.
We don't even know where "there" is sometimes. It is a very difficult issue.
My hope here is that I am going to be able to lay out for you problems and not necessarily solutions because we are looking to you for advice on how to manage this. Frankly, when I get into some of these, I don't know the answers myself.
Another major issue here is this. Senator Moynihan had a meeting. Maybe some of you were there. I don't remember whether you were there. It was about six weeks ago. John Deutch was there and a number of other folks on the Secrecy Commission were there, and they were lamenting. Several panelists were lamenting the unavailability of information government-wide.
There was a panelist who was really a guy further out in the future than the rest of them, and he said, "You don't even know the half of your problems." As we move from a paper society to a digital society and information is exchanged over computers, it is no longer on a hard copy. So what you are worried about now in terms of trying to get hard copy so that people can get access to information about their Government is good and is fine, but the real issue is what is your management philosophy about managing digital information, what is your construct as the Government. Nobody had any answers.
So I think that this is important for the Department because I noticed on my computer--I am not necessarily a computer nut, but an awful lot of the decision-making process that I used to make by staff documents and by writing things out and making them available in my reader file is not there anymore. It is going into this kind of system, and I am just one of millions, one of 20,000 in the Department of Energy.
Another issue is this, panarchy. The availability of information in our country is making the individual very powerful, and the word "panarchy" means that the individual is being extremely empowered by the availability of information.
I took a kid there on a skateboard holding up a crate to try to make that point, and then I have been reading both about what Newt Gingrich has been saying and especially about Alan Toffler and his wife. What is important here is that I think the computers have enormous advantage when you have got a censorship type of society. A society like China can't control its people like they would like to, like they used to be able to when people have access to one another on a worldwide basis on these computers, but it also poses a significant problem to us as managers with regards to how you make and control information because whatever applies on the left-hand side applies on the right-hand side.
What I am suggesting is that the Internet is completely disestablishing the philosophy of a management in which Congress passes laws and we bureaucrats carry them out. It almost, in some ways, makes irrelevant the Atomic Energy Act, the Executive Order, because of the availability of information on this system that is not within the realm that I can see--maybe you have different ideas--of control in the traditional hierarchical way.
For example, you will see in the U.S. News & World Report that there was a report that a Russian nuclear scientists was selling answers to Nuclear Weapons issues on a pro-problem-solve basis where half the money was put in a Swiss bank account when he solved the problem and half of it went to a Moscow bank. Such activities exist in our country, too. I don't mean to be negative about Russia. I mean to be talking about the nature of this informational society that we are in.
I can't tell you exactly what, but I can assure you that there is a significant amount of restricted data on the Internet, and I don't know what to do about that issue in terms of saying it shouldn't be there or controlling it. Also, you can get more and more restricted data from commercial sources.
I have heard some of the experts at the Department of Energy say, "Well, okay, but you can't really separate the wheat from the chaff." There is a lot of junk in there, too, and they can't tell the difference between the good RD and the bad RD.
Let me tell you, however, that having been in this Department for a considerable period of time, the trend is better. If "better" means better-restricted data and less chaff, it is getting better and better and better. So I think that is scant assurance that there is not wholly wonderful restricted data on there. The trend is towards making it more and more technically viable.
David Cave told me one time that he had people who could talk, uncleared people, about nuclear weapons problem-solving on web sites with other people, and he said the fact is we can get not one or two good answers, but three or four at the same time. So the challenge that I have, the challenge I have for you, is when the National Academy says build higher fences around this information, less information, which is the same thing the fundamental review reflects, what does that really mean in terms of the way information is managed in today's society?
You see this sort of fence here, and that electronic eye is like that fence wasn't there. It goes right out the door. It is irrelevant that there may be a guard there or a safe or security clearances.
Another problem is this. As more and more information is obtained by the Government, legitimately so, it goes to different agencies. I will tell you now the different agencies give different responses to the same request for information.
Indeed, several stakeholder groups have told me that within the Department of Defense, for example, they can query different parts of the Department of Defense on a classified document, and they get different answers, so that they can compound what is available.
In my hypothetical example of A through E equals a classified release, and you can get certain parts out of the Department of Energy and other departments, if you review this as a nationwide effort, for example, Hussein did his best to obtain nuclear weapons information on a worldwide basis and not just on the basis of the availability in the United States or Russia somewhere, and when you understand that there is software such as Webster which allows you to consolidate information and get rid of what you were duplicative of, it is possible that information could come out the other side in which no one ever intended to put out, but which the availability of information and the way we manage it is made possible.
What if the ideas we had was wouldn't it be nice from the point of view of stakeholder availability information and the advantage of making sure we had the same response from the same Government. If we could get an electronic Internet access to government-wide databases, the various agencies would be all responding in the same way, that would mean we would have to have a previously reviewed database to see if we had looked at it before to make sure that the classification guides were appropriately applied and consistently applied.
For example, we recently found another Government agency had a restricted data classification guide that was doing things that we had not approved in our office, which was amazing to us.
So, if we can get consistency in classification, then it would be nice to get the response out not only to the interagency database and not only to the requester, but, for example, if Page Miller says she wants a FOIA, she gets a certain amount of information, Dave Albright doesn't have any way of knowing that it is out there. So the issue is how do we make sure when we serve one client in a way they are all served similarly so they don't have to search for the same information that has already been made available.
We have given some thought to some things that might be necessary to cause this to happen. For example, there aren't any common data exchange standards among different agencies. My little handshake here is meant to show that we are trying to get cooperation with the CIA and the Departments of Defense and Energy to move forward on this idea. Electronic read action is not here yet. We don't have the appropriate intelligent reviewer tools. In fact, there is no something Government effort to do this except what some of us on the sidelines have been trying to move forward.
Also, I am really tickled by some of the technical capability that is on this panel because we like to think that we have made the Office of Declassification more effective over time.
Joe Sinisgalli back there has been a leader in this area from 1986 on. We used to have a person at a desk with a pile of paper and a hand copy of the guide, which I showed you earlier. Then we moved the guides, including recently the hypertext edition, to computers. So that means you can search among guides fairly quickly to find what you are looking for without having to go to the paper.
Now we have also incorporated a new way of doing stuff in which we were able to read some documents into the computer and do the redaction electronically at the same time that we have got the CGS on the screen.
Where we really need to move into the future is to make this highly expensive Federal employee and contractor employee less important in terms of getting the information out, more important in terms of doing what they can do best, which is make the tough calls on classification.
So we are looking for advances in automation. The Congress has been a leader in showing us that they believe we need to automate better. For the last two years, they have put money into our budget in the neighborhood of $3 million. They have indicated that if you are going to have significant declassifications, you have got to do it more effectively and more efficiently than you are doing it right now, and we couldn't agree more.
This initiative, known as DPI, has a number of key elements, the most important of which, the one that I have the most hope for, is that the work going on at Livermore right now where we are taking computer guides and we are converting them into algorithms and we are trying to make sure that those algorithms can look at a piece of paper that we feed into a character scanner and come up with the right classification decision, that is strictly R&D. To my knowledge, no other Government agency is doing that, but if we can be successful, think of the implications for the Government, government-wide, if you have got NSA and the FBI and all the other agencies who can be benefitted by this process.
We are doing some things like admitting that we don't know the full story here. One of the things that was in the book about Dr. Mahler when he was getting involved with trying to introduce AI at Dupont, he had every Tom, Dick, and Harry coming in and saying, "Well, if you take my system, that system is the one that you should take because I know more about this than anybody else."
I recall some people came into my office, did the same thing. They were a group from Baltimore who wanted to help us with this, and their sole experience was in mammary oncology. They felt that that would be the base of our future DPI. Well, it wasn't that helpful.
We have now set up a web sit at GWU in which we are asking people on the web site about issues dealing with productivity. So we are trying to bring in the citizenry in terms of what we do as a corporate department to find out how to make DPI work better.
The vision, if you can put it in one simple Vugraph, is that our person will put the classified document in the computer which will be filled with that kind of software which will make a reasonable declassification decision.
I will tell you, frankly, I don't think we will ever do away with having a skilled person look at the document when the computer does it, but we are a long ways from that worry right now, once the information has been properly declassified, putting it out on the Internet and putting it out on the information highway. So that, you have got essentially a very fast and accurate way to do business.
Indeed, some of the benefits in my view would be that what you need to know is one of the major leaks in NSI security in this country, not necessarily Aldridge--is that his name, the guy from the CIA? It is mistakes in the Federal Government and releasing classified information that was supposed to be appropriately reviewed, but for one reason or another was not.
Believe me, there are people on the outside waiting to get that classified information. They even make a business out of trying to do that type of thing. So, when you make a mistake, it is not ignored. So, if you can be more accurate, you are going to support the NSI security better.
If you can turn it around faster, less dependency on people, and if you can do it faster, you are going to be able to meet the declassification priorities of the stakeholders much more quickly than we are now.
It would be unseemly for me to discuss with you the issue of assets necessary to run this program. That is not why you are here, but I will tell you that while the Secretary has added some staffing and funding to the declassification program in the Department of Energy, it seems like our responsibilities have gone much faster than the old technology. The litigation of 12958 reviews, the training of other agencies to avoid mistakes in classification, the FOIA process have all put much more pressure on us than we have had resources to handle.
In fact, we are under a lot of stress with regards to the priorities in our office. For example, there is a judge in Colorado. His name is McDonald. McDonald has the Department of Energy under a contempt citation. It is his view that we have not turned over information fast enough to a class of plaintiffs who are alleging damage to property and to their person. So we had been required, whether we like it or not and with no ability under a contempt citation to raise the issue of relevancy, to review hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of documents in a very rapid-fire manner.
Many classification experts have been pulled in out of retirement, out of other jobs, to focus on that issue. So the courts, not only Rocky Flats, but other places, have a big influence on our priorities.
Then you turn around, the President says he wants to have 12958 done, which is the review of all NSI by the year 2000, I think, or in that time frame.
We have requirements from historians and academicians. We say we would like to know your priorities. We have to meet those priorities. Why would we be asking if we weren't going to try to help them? So they want stuff out of us.
We have all kinds of site neighbors in terms of our philosophy that the more information we can give the people located at our sites, the better they will be able to evaluate any perceived threats from our sites.
Congress weighs in, and we will be the bureaucrat who does not review a congressional hearing record on the time schedule they want. I mean, they will have your rear end if you don't do it in the time they want to have it done. So that is another kind of pressure that says, all right, Congress has that kind of influence.
They have also put limitations on the President that directly affects our office with regards to the execution of 12958. The point is there is a lot of cross-currents in our office with regards to the number of things that need to be done.
I don't want anybody to think that this is an easy path. I am not going to go into any one of these individually, but there is a reality check here that the philosophy of openness is great, but the difficulty of implementing it for a whole lot of different issues, and this may change by tomorrow, makes it much more difficult for us to be effective.
In fact, I was reading a book. I was reading Wired magazine. Some of you may have read Wired magazine. It is a good magazine in terms of management as well as technology.
Peter Drucker, who is 86 years old, in the last issue was talking about different forms of management. He said the kind of management most characteristic of industry now is like there is a conductor and there is a common score, and he makes sure that the trombonist comes in at the right time and the bassoonist comes in at the right time and the lady sings at the right time and the opera goes down a path that everybody understands how it is supposed to work.
He said that is not appropriate for today's environment. I was just talking to you about all of the cross-pressures in our office. He says a jazz group is much more important.
For example, when it is time for Mary to play the trumpet, then the rest of the group steps back and lets her do her thing, and then they continue with a non-structured developing score process as they go along. He said that is really what management needs to look more towards.
The truth is that at the Department of Energy, we have both kinds of managers. We have the kind of managers who act as if they were in an opera, and we also have the need for more flexible management capability. It is not a condemnation of the Department of Energy to say that because, as Drucker said, and Cheryl probably knows more about this than I do, nobody has found a way to desegregate the organization to respond to these various kinds of particular interests that have come up in terms of the responsibility of the Department.
I am reaching the end of my briefing here. I can't get off of this tract, though, until I talk a little bit more about the fundamental review.
This is the most important review of classification policy in the history of the U.S. Government. No other agency in the history of this Government has stepped back and done the kind of review that Dr. Narath and his team have done.
We have taken between 50 and 100 of our best people in the system, and over a course of a year, they have reviewed the philosophy of the Atomic Energy Act. They reviewed the specific information that was protected underneath that Act, and they have come up with important conclusions with regards to what the Government needs to do in the future.
This was done with full public participation. Some people in this room were present at the kickoff meeting on March 16th of '95. You should know that last week, the Secretary signed off and signed out Dr. Narath's report for the interagency review process, and that the Department of Defense and the Department of State and the NSA, National Security Council and others will be involved in the review between where we are now and by the time we finish it.
It is going to be a tough row to hoe. This is going to be controversial. It is not the kind of way the rest of the Government is used to doing business. As I see it, this is my view, this is sort of a reflection about whether the President's and the Secretary's vision of openness is going to work depending on how this process comes out.
We have done things like try to make the information more enforceable, that part that is left. I say "we." This is Dr. Narath's report. We have done things that have become more transparent. The process of bringing the public into the classification process is unprecedented, and by doing so, we hope it will be more acceptable to the public and the stuff that we do withhold.
There is a number of very positive things that have gone on here, and as I say, no agency has ever stepped back and looked at themselves coldly in terms of the current operating and future operating circumstances until now.
Let me say here that this is why you folks on the panel are important. I as a manager am continually worried that I don't know something that I should know to make openness work better. Is there something that I have overlooked? Is there something that we don't know that perhaps we should know that would make this process more effective?
You can see what we did here. We have a puzzle here, and the openness is not completed. We have a ways to go, and sometimes when I have used the analogy that there are no mileposts on the road last traveled, sometimes I think there is no road on that road. You have to take a hacksaw and cut yourself through the jungle to get this thing moving.
Let me be as forthright as I can that there is really a need for you folks to help us determine what is missing and what directions we need to take in order to make this successful.
Indeed, we need your help on not only the blueprints, but on the construction of openness because our goal is the same as yours, which is to deliver on President Lincoln's concept of a Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
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CHAIRMAN MESERVE: We have a few minutes before our scheduled break. I would like to provide an opportunity for members of the panel to ask questions of Bryan.
MR. CAVANAUGH: Bryan, first of all, you mentioned that you felt a little uncomfortable discussing the question of the assets required to make this work. I don't feel uncomfortable at all, and I would like to explore it just a little further because I do think it is important.
I take it that the budgetary constraint of the Department of Energy is well known around this table. A principal beneficiary in the terms you put it, effective declassification, is the Department of Defense, which is under somewhat less budgetary pressure.
Has the Department of Defense been a willing partner in the funding of this effort? Are they likely to be in the future? Are they involved in that aspect of it?
MR. SIEBERT: Let me say a couple of things about that. One is that when Dr. Narath did the fundamental review, I think that they are largely at their own expense. The Department of Defense furnished around 15 staffers for a period of about a year, not continuously, but on and off, which I think was a very strong showing of good faith with regards to their willingness to work with the Department of Energy and revising how we look at and what we do with respect to data. So I think that is a positive angle on that.
Additionally, I think we would have to point out that when we first started the Openness Initiative, there was a lot of resistance on the part of the Department of Defense, not only just financial resistance--like they say, if you can get their hearts, their pocketbooks will follow, and their hearts weren't in it, but Secretary O'Leary worked with John Deutch and myself, and Roger Heusser and Dan Reicher and a number of us worked with the Department of Defense, and they gave us a begrudging and then, I think, under Secretary Slocum got on board and said, "You know, we really are classifying too much information over here."
So he told Ash Carter and Lenton Wells and a guy up there whose name is Chuck Wilson, who is a career bureaucrat and has been very helpful to us as well.
In terms of funding the Department of Energy directly, though, if that is what you mean, I don't recall. If somebody in the room knows better than I do, I don't think they fund us to do declassification. I think that is strictly a matter of funding that comes from our authorization and appropriation committees for the Department of Energy.
Is that what you meant?
MR. CAVANAUGH: Yes.
As you think about declassification going forward, is it your sense that all of the resources have to come from the Department of Energy?
MR. SIEBERT: In the sense of interagency cooperation, no, when the Department of Defense works with us.
Joe has set up good relationships with the CIA on trying to see if they will work with us, and we can use some of the technology that they have developed to help move DPI forward. That is not costing us anything.
In fact, what we are trying to do is save the taxpayers money by finding what else is available in the Government and making sure we don't duplicate those efforts.
Congress has similarly limited the CIA and the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense statutorily in carrying out 12598. They have said, "Wait a minute. We are not going to pay for that. So you will find limiting legislation in '95 and '96 for those agencies in doing that work." We have not been so limited, but they have passed language which would restrict what we can release until we review it, and they didn't give us any assets to do the review, any extra assets to do the reviews.
Like any other priority, openness across the Government and within the Department of Energy has to compete for resources, and there are many things that need to be done that aren't being done because of the lack of resources at all levels.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Let me ask a follow-up question on that. You made a point in your briefing that the actual funding within the Department of declassification action is not through your office; that it is Defense Programs, for example, and the EM programs, for example, as ones that, in fact, have to provide the dollars for that.
I know that the Department has made some significant gains.
MR. SIEBERT: That applies to the fields.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: And in the fields.
They have made significant gains in this area, but have you had any problems in terms of getting attention within the Department, within those other portion of the Department and making sure that they allocate sufficient resources to the task?
MR. SIEBERT: I would say that there has been resistance to openness on the part of some field offices in terms of whether they are willing to fund the staffing to do the job.
At one of our recent sites, as Albright had mentioned earlier, in fact, the manager who is not there know, so I guess I can say it openly, got rid of the classification staff just before the contempt citation came down. Of course, that affected our ability to be responsive to the judge and the courts, and it caused enormous and greater expenditure. In fact, the initial groundwork had been jerked out by allowing people to retire early.
Also, we often have to go hat in hand to the other program offices and say would you help us with the art scale reviews, would you help us with 12958.
Let me make also clear that this is a longstanding policy of the Department of Energy. The idea was back in the AEC days, you would give to the laboratories and the field office managers a pot of money covering environmental matters, weapons production, safety, and delivery systems, and then the manager would manage that money in such a way as to benefit what he felt was the priorities at the time.
Classifications is one of those kinds of responsibilities, such as security as well. So, for example, General McFadden does not control the security budgets of the field office managers. He had his own budget, as I have a budget, but we don't direct the field in terms of you will spend money here and not there. So it is subject to the whims and whimsies of some of the field office managers, some of whom have been extremely supportive.
I don't want to make a totally negative comparison, but it does give an opportunity to drag feet when they really don't want to move as forcefully and effectively as the Secretary would like.
MS. WEISS: I want to respond to Ralph's point. I think there are opportunities to leverage our DOE resources in cooperation with the other agencies, and Bryan suggested some in the human radiation experiments project.
The Department of Defense, for example, came on board, and we created a joint database and they paid for their share of that. We demonstrated the technology and that the system worked and that they had funding available to add their documents and actually to sort of pay operation of the system for a while to kind of pay us back on our investment. Those opportunities are available out there.
MR. SIEBERT: In fact, we are at the beginning of a long road of opportunity in intergovernmental cooperation. That is an excellent example of what could be done on a much more broad basis.
Many of the stakeholders, for example, come to us and complain about the fact that they can get information from us, but they can't get the same information from other Government agencies.
A reporter called me the other day and said I got this wonderful FOIA from you guys. I sent the same request to another Government agency. They sent me a small amount of information, but I can tell from the Energy information I got that they had a lot more that they didn't send to me.
So that doesn't lead to trust of the overall Government, even though it makes DOE look good on a temporary basis.
DR. MILLER: Bryan, I wanted to ask you about the National Defense Authorization Act. I know that it had a provision in there that the Secretary of Energy may not implement the automatic declassification portion of the new Executive Order because of the need to review for restricted data, and it goes on in report language to call for the President to review and revise the Executive Order. I was just wondering where that issue is now.
MR. SIEBERT: The beginning of that issue was when Ken Baker and George McFadden and myself went up and briefed the staff two years ago. What we had done was a survey of these Government record centers, such as the Presidential libraries, because the Executive Order had been signed and we knew we were going to have to review those documents.
What we found in our survey was that there was a considerable number of sensitive restricted data documents that either weren't marked at all or were marked inappropriately. Some of them were marked as NSI, and then we found NSI marked as RD. They didn't do a good job in the White House over the past years in properly managing information. For those of us who have been over there, you can see why that happens sometimes.
So, when we briefed the staffers, they said, "Oh, my God, you mean that there is a mandatory declassification of information under the Executive Order, and you are telling us that there is a possibility the release of restricted data, if that stuff is done without a review?," and the answer to that is yes, that is possible. We have the proof to show it.
One Presidential library, we found 400 improperly classified documents in the first 40,000 pages we reviewed. It is there, and it is sensitive.
In one case, in another Government agency file, we found a complete weapons design in a NSI file of a weapon that had been tested by the U.S. Government, and workable nuclear weapon, all the blueprints, five or six of them. On the open market alone, they would be worth $10 million at least.
So they said, "All right. We are going to put language in the bill, and you are not going to be able to meet the mandatory requirements of the Executive Order unless you review the information."
I don't think they really responded to the second part of the request to go talk to the President about changing the Executive Order, per se, but later the Secretary did write to Tony Lake, who is responsible for the Executive Order, and said our stakeholders--and this is a result of talking to our stakeholders--don't particularly think this massive review of NSI within the Department of Energy is that helpful. Your good stuff is RD, it is not NSI.
So the Secretary told Director Lake that we are going to take the same assets that we were going to put on the NSI, but we are going to move them over to RD because that is where the stakeholders wants us to put the assets.
Then Tony Lake write back and said we agree with that. We checked it with Aftergood before we did any of this, and he said this is okay. No, not Aftergood. A Freudian slip. Garfinkel. Both of them are Steve.
MR. SIEBERT: I have become so stakeholder-oriented, I don't know who is in the Government and who is not anymore.
Anyway, he wrote back and said, yes, you can do the RD instead of the NSI in terms of the same proportion of assets, but you still have to meet the regs to do the NSI at the end of the five-year period.
DR. MILLER: Do you still have the 15 percent a year?
MR. SIEBERT: I think that that is not part of the commitment. To do 15 percent of NSI is in the Executive Order, but he wasn't going to let us off the hook. We may not do 15 percent the first year, but the requirement still is to do the whole package by the end of the time period. We think that conflicts somewhat with the legislation that says you are not going to put it out unless you review it because if we can't get it reviewed under the five-year requirement that Mr. Lake put out, then the law would be that it cannot be released now.
I was trying to show you the conflicting pressures that are on us on that. I think it is very important what the President tried to do to get a clear focus on getting that massive amount of information out. On the other hand, there are national security risks that would douse the effectiveness of the Openness Initiative if we don't pay attention to them in the Department of Energy.
DR. SESSOMS: I was wondering whether there is a significant effort underway to put together the interagency test within AI. I know some people at the agency are working with folks at MIT and other places to try to get the best out, in particular, in scanning classified documents. Are you plugged into that directly, or is it only peripheral?
MR. SIEBERT: Let me ask Joe, shortly, quickly, to give a little bit of analysis about what we are doing in cooperation with the IC community.
MR. SINISGALLI: The second joint compositum was conducted. Tom Curtis of my staff is chairing the technology working group. When we say Intelligence Community, that is a misnomer because it is Defense, State, and what have you.
So there is a very active interagency activity going on. As we are speaking now, like within this next week or two, I expect a GW Internet page to be endorsed by the Intelligence Community as the official unclassified data exchange channel for classification/declassification issues and the electronic.
We have tapped into the Tipster Program, which is at the Department of Defense, and we are on sort of evaluation with that. They are being briefed on our activities. So we are trying to make this a nationwide exchange.
MR. SIEBERT: So we have started this process. That idea to do that originated with Joe's office. This whole prices has had Energy as the nucleus of making this work.
We worked on the Intelligence Community. We tried to get them to work with us for a couple of years. Finally, through a lot of good hard work and thinking, they saw what was going to happen. John Deutch came in, and they sort of made a move towards openness, and there we were ready to work with them.
The process is started. We have taken a small step forward, but we have started.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Any other comments?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: If not, we have come to the moment in our program where we have a scheduled break.
I would like to make just two comments to the panel, one of which I probably should have made at the outset explicitly. Really, our function today is to try to define the task that we as a panel are going to perform and to try to sort out exactly how we proceed.
I would suggest that as you think about the various presentations that are made and the one we have just heard that you try to sort of sort that in your mind in the context of how we should define our work.
The Secretary has suggested that she would like us to be thinking about some sort of a response on those issues in the February-March time frame. So you might be thinking about that in the context of how we might proceed.
One other announcement I would like to make is that we do have an opportunity on our program for individuals who are part of the general public here to make comments. There is time allotted after lunch.
In order to allocate that time, I would like to request that anybody who is here from the public that would like to make some comments to this group, ask those individuals to please sign up. There is, I believe, a sign up sheet at the registration desk which was outside and may have moved someplace else.
I would just ask that anybody who would like to speak to the group would please sign up before lunch. Then we will schedule comments immediately after lunch.
We will be adjourned now on a break for 15 minutes and then back to work.
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CHAIRMAN MESERVE: We are at a portion of the program in which there are some briefings to provide an historical perspective on openness issues at the Department.
The first individual who is going to speak to us is Skip Gosling, who is the DOE Chief Historian.
MR. GOSLING: Thank you. There are no overheads. Bryan has apparently a budget for graphics support. We do not have a budget for that.
MR. GOSLING: I am glad to be here this morning. I am representing the Department of History Division, and my bottom line is just to let you folks know a little bit about why it might be useful as a resource to you as you do your work down the road. So I just wanted to say a few things about what we do, about our business.
Per capita, we have had enough slides and overheads combined. So I won't discuss those for now. That is the advantage of following Bryan, and I am not here to do a test on Bryan's presentation either.
In August of 1957, the Atomic Energy Commission set up a History Division of the Atomic Energy Commission and gave it a few objectives. Those objectives were to write an official history of the Atomic Energy Commission, to prepare a current history about the Atomic Energy Commission, to locate and preserve the historical records of the Atomic Energy Commission, to prepare books and articles for the public on the Atomic Energy Commission, and to do liaison with other Federal historians and archivists and the scholarly community, which I think they probably would directly translate in working with stakeholders.
It was a very different bureau 40 years ago. On the other hand, if I can read very briefly from the Mission Statement of the History Division today, which was in last year's fiscal plan, you will see the consistency of this office over that 40-year period.
The History Division's mission--this is in 1996--is to provide the Department of Energy with a reliable and dynamic institutional memory. The History Division has five pieces of that mission. The first piece is to provide authoritative historical information for the Department and the public. In that context, last year, we answered over 300 informational requests from the Secretary to foreign governments.
Secondly, the Department's History Division researches rights and distributes the Department's history, and those of you here have pieces of that written history, including a summary history of the Department in a nice-looking turquoise publication, which some of you may have seen on the table, which is currently being revised. It only goes up to the middle of 1994. So it has been brought out for the election of '96. We have two sections on that, awaiting the outcome of the election of '96.
Thirdly, the History Division of the Department of Energy identifies, maintains, and provides access to the Department's historical records. Again, this is a mission of key offices maintaining over this entire period.
The History Division participates in the Department's Historic Preservation and Cultural Resources Management Program. We team with the Office of EH to help the Department comply with the national Historic Preservation Act.
Finally, the History Division in 1996--we have a final bullet--communicates with the public by soliciting stakeholder input and incorporates stakeholder feedback in the History Division programs and products.
We actively participate. This is a piece of our mission that has been significantly enhanced in the last three or four years in the O'Leary administration and marks a growth in the program.
So the mission has remained relatively the same, and in our view, the History Division is, in fact, a piece of openness, no matter what you call it, over a long period of time. What we do is distribute information, accurate, credible information to as wide an audience as possible, and that has been our role and continues to be our role and will be our role.
In doing so, we have come into contact with most of the major issues of the Openness Initiative, and on my oblique one-paged outline, I put these down.
The History Division is heavily involved in the Freedom of Information Act process because of the records that we own, and we are a good customer for OD in that respect because most of what we find in the information requests is, in fact, RD-related material that has to be reviewed, and most of you here are fairly well aware of that issue.
There has been a significant backlog in the history division. There has been a significant reduction of our backlog. I see some of our customers in the world for our FOIAs here today.
I am here also to say that Gayla Sessoms who is the head of the FOIA office is also in a position to offer help to this group, whoever that might be, and the reason I can offer this help is because her boss is my boss, and my boss said we will offer our help, Gayla will offer her help. So the FOIA office is here. Gayla is out of town, but I can make that pledge on her behalf as well.
The History Division also provides significant litigation support on the kinds of cases that Bryan mentioned earlier. I know there is package for this group, the classification issues having to do with litigation in the Department. Those issues are ones we are familiar with in the work we do every day.
We are involved in the Rocky Flats case. We are involved in the Hanford litigation and a whole variety of other cases that currently confront the Department of Energy.
I think it is safe to say the History Division had a most significant role to play in the Office of Human Radiation Experiment Initiative. In fact, one result of that initiative was half of our staff detailed to the Office of Human Radiation Experiments for a significant period of time, disproportionately probably the largest single contribution of any single office in the Department to Human Radiation Experiments, and one of the downside results of that was the loss of one of our senior staff of the Office of Human Radiation Experiments, Dr. Roger Anders, who is here today. So I guess that is good. It certainly reduced our FTE.
We have also been involved in the conversations both within the Department and outside the Department on the Executive Order that Bryan also talked about. So I won't go into that. It has had a direct impact on our office because for a couple of years, we have had a significant contingent of OD people, Office of Declassification people, in our space in Germantown.
The original intent was let's put a bunch of OD people down in the History Division. We will help them get their FOIAs out quicker, and in the meantime, we will start systematically reviewing the collections the History Division holds to try to get them over to the National Archives.
This has been something where we have been involved in discussions with our stakeholders in terms of which order should the collections we have go to the National Archives. Then, when the Executive Order came out, it basically turned that OD effort into a scramble. The FOIA work essentially ceased at one point, and the systematic reviews ceased, as the Office of Declassification tried to figure out what strategy the Department was going to take.
Bryan has alluded again to this RD issue, and I am sure you folks will be dealing with this in a fairly extensive way. Our stakeholders weighed in much the same way that Bryan alluded to. The interest was not in NSI. It was what people want from us, so to speak, and our records is RD. The original intent of the Executive Order would have not yielded what it was, nor for our office for that matter.
So we have been a host to several Office of declassification initiatives, and the most recent one is one Bryan again alluded to this morning, and this is the declassification productivity initiative. I have it on my table now from Joe Sinisgalli, in which we are going to agree to have the Office of Declassification using them for our documents to develop the core for a database to test this code word usage, moving in the direction of our official intelligence. So our office is, again, involved in that element of the Openness Initiative.
I put in bold on my one-paged handout stakeholder scholarship. This is something that has become shorthand for what we like to think we do in our office, and that is that for all of our major writing projects now, we set up groups like this. We don't spend any money. We don't bring it in from out of town. We don't put them up anywhere, but we do to enhance our credibility, to enhance the process of peer review craft a custom-made advisory group, an informal advisory group to provide us with input on the design of our writing projects and the content of our writing projects, so that at the end of our writing projects, we are able to come forth, having been battered along the way, with quality peer review scholarship that has credibility beyond the walls of the Department.
This has been the single-most exciting development in the History Program since I have been there, and I can say it has been virtually synonymous with the O'Leary administration in that sense. We have been encouraged to do so, which is to say that you have a Federal History Office participating in the scholarly debate in the way that we are originally trained to be, anyway. That is our inclination. It is our desire, and now we are being encouraged to do so. That is something that we are very grateful for and something we hope continues.
As a result, we have networked very actively with other people interested in these issues, and in that sense, I think we could be of value to this committee in a variety of different ways.
I will give you an analog or give you the reason that we are here. When Dan Reicher talked to my boss, they determined there were several areas that we might be of help. I will just point them out and then give Ellie the floor.
First, our office is involved with this particular group because it is not part of an important chapter in DOE history, the Openness Initiative, or whatever name we are going to give it.
Maybe it will remain "Openness." Nonetheless, this is an important initiative, and so it is our intention to document it.
Troy Wade is not here. Troy was on another group which you may know about, the Advisory Committee on External Regulation of the UE Nuclear Safety. We tracked that committee. We took that committee's records into the History Division, and the article that we wrote recently in Environmental History is the background to the deliberations of that advisory committee. So we have been involved in a similar activity.
Secondly, our involvement is directed towards trying to assess the impact of the deliberations of this group on the Department's archives and around the issue of permanent records. It is the responsibility of our office to determine ultimately what our Department's permanent records are, and there are issues involved with digitized records, for instance, that are very tricky and that we are paying attention to because our responsibility is not simply to see that everything gets on the web, which will never happen, anyway--everything, that is, but that, in fact, over the long haul, 10 or 20 years down the road, that digitized information is still available.
There are preservation and maintenance issues around this that are of significance. I don't mean to dampen the enthusiasm for digitized records, by any means. Our office is pursuing this, and that is part of the reason we have run into some of the issues.
The question of the permanent record is one that our office has a responsibility to pay attention to. Recent studies have indicated, in fact, that if you study a 10-year cycle that it is, in fact, not necessarily true that digitized records are cheaper to maintain and service than paper records. So there are some interesting issues around this that we are talking about that we are trying to get abreast of ourselves, and we will be glad to participate in those kinds of discussions.
The Department may well like to make some decisions in the digitized area. If we can't put everything up, what is it we are going to put up? That brings me back to talking to stakeholders and back to priorities and dollars and long-term maintenance costs. If, in fact, we are going to put up less of our records, which is inevitable, we will put up less than the total of the universe. How long will we put up for and for which of our audiences are we looking at? We need to identify our audiences.
Some people are content with certain pieces of our record. Other people, like some of the scholars, in particular, are not content with less than the universe of records. So digitized is never going to be the solution in that direction, but this is a very tricky and very fluid situation, as other people in the room know better than I do, and we would be glad to participate as well in that.
I would just like to suggest one other thing that is sort of a particular interest in our office. I thought I would pass it on. This is largely a committee dealing with openness. It deals with classification/declassification issues. I would simply like to throw up into the wind and into the mix a pet view of our office, that being that one way for this Department's subjectivity and credibility to be enhanced further is complimentary to this task, and that is to begin entertaining notions of maximum access to the DOE sites by the public.
The Department of Energy owns some of the most unique battlefields of the cold war. There was only limited access to most of our sites, more access to some than others, and there are obviously different issues of access. Not many people are going to take the tour of Pantex in the near future. It is simply not going to happen.
However, there are sites where increased public access, interpretation of those battlefields, if you will, could be a complimentary step in openness. We are talking here largely about access to information. We are thinking in terms of a complimentary interest in access to the sites themselves, the tourist, if you will, angle to the DOE sites.
We have been talking to various parties interested in this in terms of communities and State governments. Unofficially, there is significant interest in this at some of our sites, but physical access and interpretation of what this Department did for 40 or 50 years, which is the only Department that did it, is something I would just like to throw into the wind and see where it lands.
I would just like to repeat our willingness to participate, our hope that you will call upon us, and I would like to turn it over to Ellie.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Thank you.
Any questions or comments?
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CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Our next presentation is by Eleanor Melamed, who is the Acting Director of the Office of Human Radiation Experiments.
MS. MELAMED: Good morning. It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to talk to you and to share the perspective on openness of myself and my colleagues in the Human Radiation Experiments Project.
When I worked at the National Archives, which is what I did before I had the privilege of coming to DOE and working on this project, I used to teach classes at one point in my career in records management. I had a collection of cartoons that I used to use to liven these courses up which I have since lost, which is not very good records management, but one of my favorites was a picture of a man in a park. It was clearly meant to be Hyde Park or some American equivalent.
He was standing on a box, earnest and unkept, and he is talking forcefully to a group of people. The caption is: "They won't give us this information. No, they won't give us this information, and do you know why? Because they can't find the information."
I have often thought about that because I think that is really a very key point when you think about records and openness in the Department of Energy.
We have a name for this problem, kind of an archival term, and it is called intellectual control. The Department in a major way lacks control over the records in its custody. What we mean by intellectual control is we simply don't know what is out there. We don't know where records are. We don't know what information is in the records.
The picture is, of course, more nuance than that. There are parts of the Department where we do know. Certainly, Skip has a very good knowledge of what is in his collection. Some of the laboratories and sites have made much better progress than others in trying to inventory and describe their records, but the fact remains that there are--and the number we tend to use is--3.2 million cubic feet of records out there, and we have a box over here. We wanted to give you an idea. A cubic foot is just a little bit larger than that.
There are 3.2 million cubic feet out there scattered all across the DOE complex, and there is just a tremendous amount. We don't know about what is in them. So what does it matter? I mean, what difference does it make that we don't have this intellectual control?
Well, the short and obvious answer is if you don't know what information you have, you can't very well make it available. It also makes it hard to efficiently and effectively go about declassifying it if you don't really have a good handle on where all the classified information it.
You might ask isn't this a problem in all Federal agencies. I mean, all Federal agencies have lots and lots of records, and there has been a tremendous explosion in records creation since the war. What makes the problem at DOE unique?
Well, I think there are some factors at DOE that have uniquely contributed to this lack of intellectual control.
For one thing, and those of you who are familiar with DOE know this very well, from the very inception of the predecessors of this agency, the Manhattan Engineer District and then the Atomic Energy Commission, DOE has used contractors. They have run their sites by contractors who have a lot of independence to operate as they will. I mean, this was a very efficient way to build a bond quickly, and it is a tradition that has continued.
Using contractors is not the best way if you want to have control and standardization of a records program. There has been a lot of different ways records have been kept. There has been a lot of loss of records. There has just been a tremendous amount of lack of control over the records that these contractors have created, some of which are extremely valuable and have a tremendous amount of information that you might want to know.
Another thing is if you look at the kinds of people who have worked for DOE over the years, DOE has employed a lot of research types, scientists, engineers, doctors, and these are the sort of people who themselves are difficult to manage if you are a supervisor.
The records created out of that kind of work are particularly difficult to manage. This is the research and development, personal papers kind of records, and it is really hard to get a handle on this stuff to assert control over it. So there is a lot of that material out there.
Third is the pressures of production during the cold war. As you were driven to produce, recordkeeping often got neglected. This was not a primary task that the AEC always concerned itself with, although in the beginning there was some good centralized recordkeeping.
Finally, the incredible range in variety of what the DOE has done and the geographical dispersion of this agency that goes from coast to coast makes it very difficult to know and get a handle over the records by those who would like to access them and make them available to the public.
There is one more factor I would put forth that makes DOE special, kind of on the other side of the equation. I think the Department has really impacted the lives of a lot of people for better and for worse, and a lot of people perceive that the Department has affected their lives. So there is a very strong and vocal constituency out there that wants access to these records for lots of different reasons, and it is pushing very hard for us to make the records available.
So, for all of these reasons, I think you have a very unique situation in DOE that makes the records issue very important.
What we can do about this is illustrate it by the Human Radiation Experiments Project. This was, I think, simply defined, a very successful effort to gain intellectual control over an important segment of DOE records.
You started with the 3.5 million records, and our assignment was to find everything related to human radiation experiments in these records. As Ellyn has pointed out, this was often a moving target. As we moved along, they changed the definition of what we were looking for and what was human radiation experiments and what it included.
Of course, we couldn't just go to the file folders marked human radiation experiments in the drawers, marked look here for radiation experiments. There were no computers where we could push the buttons and say spew out everything related to human radiation experiments. We really had to figure out a way to get at this material wherever it was.
Well, we did. We went from 3.2 million cubic feet down to about 75,00 cubic feet of records that potentially included material relating to this topic, broadly defined, and the way we did it wasn't rocket science, as people say. We used multidisciplinary teams. We used archivists, records managers, historians, health physicists, even lawyers. We included people from all over the complex. We enlisted the sites in the effort. We thought hard about where records would be. We triaged where it was most important to work, and after we did these initial forays, we went down and looked on the ground.
We opened boxes of the important collections. We assessed what was there. A crucial tool that we used is something that we call a series description. We focussed on definite records in groups.
A series is really a group of records that are filed together or relate to a common topic. For example, technical reports at Argonne National Laboratory, 1945 to 1960, that might be a series, or the papers of John Goffman, 1960 to 1968, that would be a series. We defined these records into these groups by series, and within these series, we wrote descriptions and we sampled what was in there. We made clear which ones had classified information, which ones had privacy information, where they were, who the custodians were, and how you went about accessing them.
So, for that 75,000 cubic feet of records, we have intellectual control, and it means that anyone who comes in after us can go in and do their own research. They can ask their own questions. They know how to do the research themselves.
In fact, the best way to understand this is we gave you all our road map, which is sitting in front of you, which includes all of those series descriptions, some historical background, a discussion of a project, and it really documents that whole effort of intellectual control.
I should add at the same time that working at the series level also allowed us to then focus in on the places we thought were most important and extract over 250,000 pages of individual documents, which we fed to the ever-voracious Advisory Committee that wanted more and more material, and that we put on the World Wide Web and we made available to anyone who can access the web.
I would like to just give you one concrete example of the value that results from this. The Manhattan Engineer District and then in the very early days of the Atomic Energy Commission was headquartered in Oak Ridge. In the Oak Ridge Operations Office, there were 7,000 boxes of records. We used to call them the mystery boxes.
We had no idea. No one had a very good idea what was in these boxes, but there was always a lot of suspicion that this was important material.
In fact, one of our stakeholders said, and I quote this exactly, this is where DOE "kept the documents it did not want the public, including various congressional subcommittees, to know about," and I think it is an important point. I mean, sometimes when you don't know, people assume the worst, that that is where you are hiding this stuff.
Our office felt that this was clearly basically all the information we knew, potentially a pretty rich source, and we began during the project and continued after it. We made a real effort to figure out what was in there.
We went and opened the boxes. We divided them into series. We created a database basically listing, not document by document, but just getting an idea of what was in the boxes.
Well, we found 2,200 cubic feet of really valuable historical records that are currently being transferred into the National Archives. We found a large group that were pretty valueless that could be destroyed, and we found others that were useful for other purposes.
Based on the work that was done in Oak Ridge, the CDC was able to get information for their epidemiological studies on workers. There were a number of FOIA requests that were difficult to answer, but once people knew what was in those boxes, you could really realistically answer them.
Finally, we saved DOE some money in litigation. A lot of those records were useful for DOE's litigation efforts, and we were able to make that information available and put it to use. So I think that nicely illustrates the multiple value of this kind of on-the-ground records work.
So what are lessons learned from our project for opportunity for the concerns that brought you here? Let me try to briefly summarize. First, we would make the point that declassification is tremendously important, and of course, as Bryan has eloquently pointed out, it is very complicated and raises a lot of issues, but we would want to add that openness does go beyond declassification; that openness is fundamentally a records issue, and that the way in which Federal agencies manage their recorded information and make them available is really at the heart of doing openness.
Of the 250,000 pages of documents we put on the web for human radiation experiments, maybe 10,000 had formally been classified. This was not a project where the key impediment was classification. The key impediment was access to the material, so that you could make sense of it and do your work.
Second, I think there are two things you need for openness to take place. You need the will and commitment to do openness.
I think in records terms, the way I would phrase it is you need people at the top of the agency, which we have been blessed to have, who really believe that the records belong to the people who paid for the creation, the taxpayers, and that they have a right to them within the reasonable boundaries that we set of national security.
I think beyond that commitment which we have gotten from the Secretary and from Dr. O'Toole, who is the Assistant Secretary for Environment Safety and Health and for whom we all work, beyond that you really need to go out and do this hard, but you have to use your intelligence, on-the-ground work, not just to find a document here and there, but to really get your arms around the volume of material that is out there, so that you can proactively make it available.
Third, I would say this kind of approach is particularly important because one of the things we have been talking about, and the Secretary has talked about, is empowering people, building bridges, and creating trust.
If you describe bodies of records, if you make records available, if you put people in the position by releasing finding aids so that they can do the research themselves or they can follow beyond the research you did, they are much more likely to trust the results. They are much more likely to feel that what they have been told and what they found is the truth. So we really need to proactively locate and release documents not just in response to individual requests, handout documents, which, of course, is not to say that's not important work.
Fourth, I would say it sounds hard, but it can be done. I mean, we did it for an important segment of records, and I think the challenge is to go beyond and to continue doing this work for other important records. Particularly, we would say in the Environment Safety and Health arena, that are crying out for this kind of treatment.
Finally, I would like to comment on the whole issue of technology. Our experience was technology is useful. Indeed, it is invaluable. Were we find it particularly useful, of course, is in the dissemination part of the process, in the organization of the information and dissemination, and we produced what I think really was a cutting-edge system on the Internet that allowed people to see the entire document, to use very powerful search engines to search the whole body of material we put out, to print this material, and we were very proud of using the technology.
I don't think there is any way that the technology can do the job on the ground. I think you really need to invest in the skilled people that go out and put some effort into this work, but I think once you have done that, you can put the information in databases. You can manipulate it. You can disseminate it, and you can give it to people in the form that they will find it most useful.
Our office is continuing the work that we began, where as Bryan mentioned we are trying to make finding aids available. We are working very hard to move records out of the Department, which are historically valuable, into the National Archives, which is really set up for this public access. We are trying to work with EH to organize and consolidate all of our information dissemination resources, and we are really hoping to have the opportunity to do some more road maps to other kinds of important records across the DOE complex.
I guess our office would say that as you think about your priorities, we would just look to you to help us ensure that the commitment remains that in this time of limited resources, there are ways to continue this very, in some ways, difficult, but a reasonable investment of resources in work on the ground, looking at records and make them available, so that we will always be able to know where things are and share them with our public.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Ralph?
MR. CAVANAUGH: I have a quick question. Can you give us a sense of what it costs in terms of people and money when you undertake the human radiation initiative in openness?
MS. MELAMED: Well, I can, but there are a bunch of caveats, I think, in giving you these figures. The only figure that I really know is a figure that includes not just our work, but DOE paid for the Advisory Committee which was this very large effort to organize and produce this report.
I think the whole effort, DOE's internal effort and supporting the Advisory Committee, was close to $22 million. So it was very expensive.
I would say, however, that that doesn't necessarily imply that any kind of effort on our part is going to cost that much. I mean, you have to remember that we were working under tremendous time constraints.
A report had to be produced. A lot of people had to be hired. This had to be done lickety split. We had to really do it with extreme case, with a lot of formal procedures with the sites because we had to document because of the way the process was set up that we were doing it fairly, that we were not hiding things, that the people who had done the experiments weren't the ones doing the searches.
So there was a lot of, I think, cost built in to the nature of that effort, but if part of your question is would it cost that much to continue this, I think the answer is--I mean, what we did at Oak Ridge, for example, we did just our staff going for a couple of weeks every month, spending time in the vaults and doing the work.
I think for a much less amount of money over the long haul, we could slowly continue this work and keep it up.
MS. WEISS: I would just like to respond to the cost question. There are a whole lot of caveats, more that you didn't give, including the fact that a lot of this is based on our request that the sites give us some estimate of basically what their personnel costs were.
We are not sure the degree to which there was any uniformity or particular level of reliability in those responses, but I think that what is important to note is that the vast majority of this was done with existing resources. It was done with teams of people who were already working at the sites, people detailed from the various Department of Energy departments and divisions, some contractor support, one significant chunk of money for creation of the database and the system for World Wide Web.
Scanning costs a lot of money, but it was a highly leveraged operation that used very little new resources.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Thank you, Eleanor. We appreciate your presentation.
We have on our agenda a series of presentations now by some people who are outside of the Department, but who have been following the openness issue very closely.
The first is Steve Aftergood from the Federation of American Scientists.
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MR. AFTERGOOD: Hi. I am Steve Aftergood, and I am the director of the Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.
I just want to make a few brief comments about the role of this panel and what it might hope to accomplish. One of the things that I think characterizes the classification system as a whole government-wide is a relative absence of oversight.
The Information Security Oversight Office reported to Congress a couple of weeks ago that classification-related activities cost an estimated $5.6 billion over the last year.
If the secrecy system were a Cabinet agency, it would be nearly twice the size of the State Department, judging by its budget. Yet, the quantity and quality of oversight is probably less. There is probably less oversight per dollar than in any comparably sized Government activity.
So, in other words, there is a need for increased oversight, and my hope for this panel is that it will be able to assume at least a small part of the oversight burden that has been neglected by Congress and others.
Oversight, of course, could easily be a full-time permanent job for all of you, and even then you would not be able to complete it. So, with that in mind, I want to make a few suggestions for particular activities or concepts of operation that might guide your task and allow you to proceed without being overwhelmed by it.
Without knowing exactly what you have already planned, it occurred to me that one way of organizing the panel's work would be to plan to issue an annual report on the state of openness policy at DOE.
I am not thinking of anything too fancy or bulky, simply a kind of letter report that describes what has been accomplished over the preceding year in terms of declassification, what problems have arisen, what are the outstanding items on the openness agenda that remain to be accomplished over the coming year.
The collection and evaluation of this kind of data could be a theme, a continuing them of the panel's meetings and throughout the year and between meetings.
Such a report would obviously nominally be addressed to the Secretary of Energy, but it should also be provided to the DOE authorization and appropriations committees in Congress and to the public.
That raises the question of what is the openness agenda. The panel, I think, is very fortunate in that it doesn't have to start from scratch. Perhaps the bulk of the necessary work has already been done by the NAS committee chaired by Dr. Meserve, and the Fundamental Classification Review chaired by Dr. Narath.
It seems to me if you would look at those two documents or efforts side by side, there is already a broad consensus about what the primary elements of the openness agenda are. I won't really rehearse them here before you now. I think they jump out at you.
I would also discourage the panel from spending too much time on revisiting a lot of those fundamental issues. I would make sure you understand what has already been accomplished over the last year or two because there is a lot that has already been accomplished.
Operationally, what should this panel do? Well, I think it should periodically interrogate policymakers both inside DOE and outside to the extent that they impact on DOE operations, and that can be done either in a hearing format or more informally or through written correspondence in order to monitor the status of each of the items on the agenda, what progress are we making towards eliminating formerly restricted data, if the panel agrees that is something that needs to be done, et cetera.
The panel, I think, should not be shy about advertising its existence within the Department, before Congress, to the public, and to the press. One of the ways that the panel will contribute to keeping openness on the public agenda is by letting people know it exists.
Routinely, I think on average of twice a week, I get calls from reporters specifically about DOE classification policy issues. Is the panel either collectively or individually prepared to receive press inquiries? If so, how would you want to handle that? What kind of input are you prepared to receive from the public? What would you like to receive? What are you capable of acting on? What is really inappropriate and is more than you can handle?
Beyond the consensus that I think is familiar to all of us, a couple of things occurred to me that might be issues over the long term that the panel could look into. What limits, if any, should be placed on sharing classified information with foreign governments?
The current Congress has periodically expressed concerns that DOE is somehow throwing away our national patrimony by sharing classified information and restricted data with some of our allies. Is that true? Could it, in fact, serve the interest of nuclear safety and nonproliferation if we actually shared more classified DOE information with other countries and international organizations? Under what conditions? Are there certain kinds of information, for example, that would strengthen the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and help it do its job better? Should the panel actually encourage the disclosure or the sharing of more classified information within international organizations? Can the impact of openness and declassification be documented in a less rhetorical, more concrete way?
We all know and many of us have given sermons about how wonderful openness is. It would be nice, I think, if we could move onto the next step in which we are actually documenting that openness makes a contribution to the Nation in very concrete ways.
Is it possible, for example, to investigate how declassified technologies have migrated into the commercial sector, or is that just a myth? Are there any real success stories there? Are there lessons to be learned? Or, for that matter, are there any horror stories? Are there any declassification actions that have come back to haunt us?
A lot of arguments for and against openness are based on prejudice or gut feeling one way or the other, and I would like to see the discourse move towards a more empirical foundation, both pro and con.
I could go on, but we are a little behind schedule, and I think those are most of the key things I wanted to say.
I would just conclude by wishing you good luck and say that for myself and for a lot of people who I know who are not here, we support the establishment of the panel, the reasons that led to its establishment. There are a lot of us that stand ready to help if there is some way that we can in the future.
So I will stop there.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Thank you, Steve.
Any comments or questions?
DR. EARDLEY: I agree with you on your comments about the need to advertise our existence and to handle public comment to the extent we can personally manage it in our lives.
I would like to make a concrete suggestion to the panel that we put up a web page at the DOE and solicit comments that way. Perhaps I can work with David to see how we might do that.
MR. ALBRIGHT: Steve, what is your opinion? Should the DOE share more information with DIA and overseas governments or less?
MR. AFTERGOOD: My opinion, honestly speaking, is more of a prejudice that there are benefits to be gained by intergovernmental cooperation. It helps promote standardization of classification practices. It may well contribute toward strengthening the nonproliferation regime by improving the IAEA's database, the starting point from which they conduct their work and so on, but I think the case ought to be made not by advocates like me, but empirically.
If it is true, it is important to find out and to make it a habit.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Al?
DR. SESSOMS: I spent eight years trying to figure out how to do that from the State Department perspective with the IAEA. There are major barriers. One is that it is an international organization with everybody in it. So we were forced to ensure that information that was sensitive, that was passed along, went only to nationals of the countries that we collaborated with who also were cleared by their governments.
It gets a little complicated when you just want to share information. You really have to compartmentalize it. In fact, objectively, it is just sort of a den of vipers, and you have to understand that.
You have a number of very strong advocates of it, the IAEA, in particular. It is difficult to manage information once you drop it in that box. That is true of almost any international organization.
If you wish to move in that direction, you have to find mechanisms to control the information therein, and that is tough.
DR. WILLIS: You asked a rhetorical question, what is the openness agenda. You went on to say that you amounted it to, I presume, subsequent contact. What would be your top three items on the openness agenda? Suppose that you were asked what was your top three on your list. What would you give?
MR. AFTERGOOD: I would offhand say this. One is reducing the scope of what is classified. It is the notion in the NAS report of high fences around whatever it was, you know, high fences around a limited area.
The fundamental classification policy review has taken a major step in that direction with its 68 topical areas that it was recommending complete or partial declassification. That is responsive to that number-one priority. Now the question is, is it going to survive the interagency review process, is it going to be implemented, and that is the status of that issue that needs to be monitored.
Probably, my second issue would be document declassification. Once the criteria for classification are in place, how can we improve the process by which documents come out the back end and I can get my hands on them? Right now, even if there are no changes in classification, there is a tremendous backlog of information that ought to be declassified under existing standards and it is not.
DR. WILLIS: Do you mean accessibility?
MR. AFTERGOOD: I mean the processing of classified documents through the filter, so that they can be released, so that they come out in releasable form, and that is obviously a major issue with lots of aspects.
Third, I think the classification regulation that is now pending within the Department will include a lot of the administrative changes that are widely agreed to be necessary, including changes in emphasis, the manner in which information is classified, shifting the burden of proof, facilitating ultimate declassification, and several other things.
Fourth and more long term might be amendments to the Atomic Energy Act to accommodate the concerns that have been addressed by others.
Like I said, a lot of great work has been done by the NAS committee and by the fundamental classification review, and so the panel is lucky in a very important respect, that you aren't starting from beginning, but are in a position to build on the work that has been done by other.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Thank you, Steve.
MR. AFTERGOOD: Thanks.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Stan Norris is our next speaker from the National Resources Defense Council.
DR. NORRIS: Good morning. My name is Stan Norris. Some of you may know me as Robert S. Norris. I only learned on Monday morning that I was to appear before you. My colleagues, some of whom you may know, Tom Cochran, generously offered my services. So, with those two comments, let me launch in here and say how pleased I am to be here before the panel this morning and participate in its establishment and see that its work is underway.
Perhaps a few brief comments here will be of some help. For many years, many of you know that my organization, the Natural Resources Defense Council, has urged greater openness, and we have been active users of the Freedom of Information Act and have written widely on a host of issues.
We have been very pleased to see Secretary O'Leary's leadership on this issue and feel that she has really distinguished herself by the practices on declassification and openness.
So the main question before us today is what role should this Advisory Panel play in implementing and institutionalizing the openness policy. Let me just suggest a few things. Of course, coming late in the list here, much of what I had to say has already been said, and many things are quite obvious.
It has been mentioned that the panel can perform an ongoing monitoring function in trying to assess and critique many of the things that have already been put into place, and it can also, of course, urge implementation of some of the recommendations that have come in the recent reports by Dr. Narath and Chairman Meserve.
The panel can also act as a conduit where the public can direct its concerns, and in this effort, it was just mentioned that perhaps to expedite this public contribution, the panel could establish a presence on DOE's World Wide Web page and also perhaps E-mail addresses and so on.
It hasn't been clear to me exactly how in terms of a staff support over time what happens between your meetings. That would be important for the public to know that there is a place to direct their concerns.
It has already been brought to our attention about the importance of interacting with other departments and agencies. The panel can be an intermediary to advance greater openness throughout the Government and how necessary it is to have other agencies' participation in the overall effort or the information doesn't get out.
Eleanor talked about the radiation experience and how important it was to have DOD eventually commitment themselves to it. I know there was early resistance to opening some records, especially with one particular agency within DOD, and after that happened, there was sort of a floodgate of information that eventually poured out, but that only came about through the leadership that was there, and DOD was a little late to the party, I think.
That is not to say that there aren't important things going on in some of these other agencies and departments, and I would urge you to become aware of what is going on in the CIA, especially in the Center for the Study of Intelligence, perhaps meet with some of those people and see what they have accomplished in the way of their efforts.
Also encouraging is what the Department of Defense has recently done to implement sections of the Executive Order, establishing an Historical Records Declassification Advisory Panel. This panel is attempting to assist the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the services in choosing what records to declassify first and based on what would hold the greatest interest for the public and historians.
Of course, I should add that DOE has been a leader in this effort as well. I have participated in the panel of historians who have helped Joe and his office send to the National Archives and have them put into priority which would be of most interest. So I think that it would be useful if the panel could meet with some of these other organizations in the other agencies.
The bottom line, though, and it has been raised many times here in terms of the overall effectiveness. It will be how many resources are committed to this in money and personnel.
The Department's budget is always the culmination of a competition for finite resources by all of the different offices and divisions, and I would hope that the panel can somehow perform the very difficult task of convincing the Department itself to commit enough money and then hopefully Congress not to cut it.
I am not sure how this is done, but what would be most helpful is to be able to find a kind of champion on Capitol Hill here who makes this his issue. That is where I think perhaps some of the stakeholders and organizations can work to maybe cultivate someone to do that, but at the very least, as Steve mentioned here, the presentation of an annual report before the authority and appropriations committees at budget time to make yourself visible, and then I think, as Dan Reicher mentioned before, to really show how all of this does pay off in the end by actually enhancing national security. This would help.
Finally, in closing, just let me say a word about my own experience as a researcher and an historian. Having done this for 16 years, 12 of which were for NRDC, I can tell you it is a terribly difficult kind of research for an outsider, perhaps for an insider as well, but in terms of basing my research on the information that you hold, that the Department of Energy holds and that the Department of Defense holds, is absolutely crucial, and as a result of all of this, we have the great opportunity now with the end of the cold war to understand, I think, much, much better what has transpired over the last 50 years, and the role that nuclear weapons played in that history is crucial, and I think we will all learn a great deal as this openness initiative works its way through.
So I thank you for the opportunity to address you here this morning and look forward to working with you in the future.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Thank you, Stan.
Comments or questions for Stan?
DR. EARDLEY: I would like to ask you about the high fences protecting truly sensitive information and where you think they ought to lie.
We have the Academy report and the Fundamental Classification Review. Do you think those go far enough?
DR. NORRIS: No. I think they have struck about the right tone. As Steve says here, you are not starting from scratch. You have a great wealth of experience and thought that has already gone into all of these matters, and so that is a good jumping-off place, and I don't think those need any revision. If we can get it all done that is recommended there, that will be a great effort.
MR. SIEBERT: I am intrigued by the idea of Capitol Hill support.
MR. SIEBERT: Do you think that the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Secrecy, if that is the right word, the Moynihan Commission otherwise known as, will play a role in advocating more openness once their report is released over a period of time? Is that a possible source of help?
DR. NORRIS: I think it is, but of course, that will be temporary and will probably go out of business.
So it needs to have either a person or some subset of a committee or something to be the place where the matters are concerned.
The Freedom of Information Act, it used to be a congressman that just made it his issue. It was always a concern. You always knew that you could call up the staff and at least have them listen to what your concern is about.
It is a difficult political issue. It is kind of touchy and sensitive, as we talked about before, but I think it is worth doing, and it gives another sort of look of support and power in a very important place, especially since one of the most difficult things is always the funding and the resources.
I am certain the Moynihan Commission can help in that effort, but only in a temporary way because it eventually, I think, will go out of business at some point in time.
MR. CAVANAUGH: Something that may be worth making explicit is an assumption that I believe underlies both Steve's and your presentation, which speaking in terms of annual reports and the institutionalized role of this panel, you have in mind something that lasts more than a few months, it sounds like, in terms of this panel's contribution.
DR. NORRIS: In this panel, well, yes. I mean, I hope we won't need panels anymore. I mean, it will become a part of the fabric of the way business is done.
I suppose what we have here is just such a mountain of documentation that has been produced. I mentioned the 3.2 million feet. I think Bryan had 300 million.
The Department of Defense has billions of pages here. So what we are trying to do is deal with this legacy of the cold war here and figure out how to get all of this done. If there were only a few pages, we wouldn't need to do all of this.
After we figure out how to attack all of this and what to go first and what to go second and maybe what to throw away, then we won't need all of these recommendations.
At a certain point in time, I hope it will just become the general way business is done and all of the proper classification guides will be done and it will all be computerized, and historians will have an easy time of accessing the material. It is a utopia I am creating here.
DR. NORRIS: So we have to get to that point where it is no longer required that we have reports and commissions and panels and so on.
MR. CAVANAUGH: But more than a few months of effort by this group to specifically be required in order for that to--
DR. NORRIS: Quite likely.
MR. CAVANAUGH: I understand. That is why I just wanted to be sure we were all clear on that.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Any other questions for Steve?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Our final presentation is from Gerald Berkin, who is the former director of the Office of Security and Safety of the GAO.
MR. BERKIN: Good morning. I am Gary Berkin. I've sort of been asked to be a wet blanket, I think.
I think I have been asked to sort of provide a perspective in this business of openness. All my life, for a good number of years, I have been involved in the collection of intelligence information or gathering information abroad, and then I came back here and became a counterintelligence officer, trying to find people who were doing what I was doing over there.
Then I had been involved in the security business for a variety of Government agencies, and I also had a small consulting firm in Switzerland where I advised other governments and municipalities and companies about how to take care of their information in their plants. So I have a very particular bias, and rather than read all of this, I understand a copy is in your notebooks, I would like to make a few remarks, essential remarks to get my ideas across, if I may. It might be of some help to the panel.
I don't think there is anything inherently evil in protecting valuable information. I think everyone understands that there are times and places when circumstances will dictate that Government withhold information from the public. It is not easy to explain why sometimes it is in the public interest to withhold information from them, and it is extremely difficult for a security officer or a counterintelligence officer to do the explaining because it is a popularly held perception that they would only be defending the bureaucratic turf at the expense of the public's right to know.
The public's right to know has always been a very interesting thesis to me because there is on such right defined in the Constitution of the United States, and there is no such right that I know of in any statute that I am aware of. So this has grown to the point that there is something obscene or unclean about holding information back, and that is very odd because you will find icons of American personal freedom, such as George Washington, for example, who very often took it upon himself to withhold certain information, primarily military information from the public because it would only help our adversaries.
My World War II example would be the Government decided that it wouldn't really be too smart to give out information about the sailing dates and the routes to be taken by our ships because the Germans were sinking enough of them as it was. Why give them more information?
So we all agree, I think, that sometimes you really do have to withhold information from the public. What is the public or what is the national interest? That is only the public in abstract. You really do have things to protect. The problem we face here and all of us face here is that this is an insane technological world. There are new developments, new discoveries being made at breakneck speed and information is drawing at an enormous rate, but the basic element hasn't changed since biblical times. There are people who want this information, economic, political, military, for their own advantage, to our detriment, and how do you protect this as a Government agency?
"Openness" is a fine expression and a fine term, and I do like it. It is very explicit to me, but I would only caution against rushing headlong into opening up the coffer dam because there are people who find it uncomfortable for the Department to withhold legitimately controlled information.
Why legitimately controlled? Because if the wrong people got it, the consequences could be enormous to it. A typical anecdote that I do mention in this little piece of paper I have written for you reminds me of an incident that took place here in early 1942 before there were very rigid control programs in place.
That involved Dr. Enrico Fermi who works in the area that you people are interested in, and Leo Szilard, another coworker in that area.
In 1942, early 1942, Enrico Fermi ascertained the fact that pure graphite makes an exceptionally good neutron moderator, a very simple fact about the characteristics of graphite, and Fermi was always well driven, always driven to publisher's information because in that small nuclear world at the time of Van Heisenberg in Germany and Fermi and Gutsmith and all the rest of these fellows who worked in the nuclear business, publishing was absolutely first. They had to be the first. They wanted the Nobel, and they wanted to really be up there and be the first one to do this.
Leo Szilard, fortunately, spoke to Fermi and convinced him that it may not be too good an idea to publish this right now because they suspected--they didn't know--that the Germans were busily working on a nuclear weapon or trying to get a nuclear weapon. That was really Hitler's secret weapon, not the V-weapons of the missiles, but a nuclear weapon.
They didn't know because the Germans had put a very tight ring of secrecy around their program, and nobody really knew who was doing what there. It was very secret, but Szilard suspected this, and he convinced Fermi. He said, "Don't publish this right away, please," and it is very good that they did because as it turned out that under Van Heisenberg, a very brilliant German scientists who was a colleague of Fermi and all the others, but who remained in Germany, for a simple mathematical error, one of Heisenberg's associations had miscalculated the work on graphite and determined it wasn't a good moderator.
So no one checked those figures, and the Germans didn't use that. Therefore, they never were able to sustain a chain reaction, and they were never able to built an atomic pile. Finally, their research was overtaken by events. They lost the war militarily, and they never did have a nuclear weapon.
So I don't think one has to be particularly insightful to realize what would have happened if Adolf Hitler had a nuclear weapon in 1944 or 1945.
All I would ask the panel to do is please balance this very exciting concept of openness with a practical grasp of this world. This is a greedy world. It is a vicious world, and I don't happen to have a hatred for other people or other countries, by no means. I lived abroad for many years, but it is a pragmatic view of where we live.
I think the real emphasis should be to whom will you give access, the information to people who need it, because there are people who need it. There is industry. There are other scientists. There are physicians and what have you that need information that Government develops. It was developed at the taxpayers' expense. So I would ask only that one does not rush headlong into opening up this coffer dam because there are people who say it is bad to withhold information. I want to know. Fine, you may want to know, but is it in the public interest that you know? The real key is who is going to make these decisions.
My view is, just like Fermi and Szilard, these decisions should be made by the people who deal with that information, who know the information,, who are familiar, who can grasp the implications of the inadvertent disclosure or the disclosure of that information. That means someone who has a knowledge, people who work in that field, the scientists and the engineers themselves, and DOE has done this before.
The basic thrust should be on the people who work that information and are thoroughly familiar with it and who know what can be done with that information given to somebody else, and then you have to after that decide, all right, who is going to get access to it.
I have varied specifics in here. Time is short and people's stomachs are grumbling. I am sure it is lunchtime. So I don't want to spend too much time on it, but I do ask only that, please, think of the other side of the coin. It is extremely important.
This is not an academic discussion. If the information with which the Department of Energy has on weapons and weapon design and so forth does get into hands whose interests are inimical to those of the United States, this is not just going to be an academic solution to these problems but very grave consequences for the United States, you, your families, and our future generations.
So, with that, I will leave you. I thank you again for giving me this opportunity to present my rather biased viewpoint on protecting information, which I think is extremely important to the United States.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Thank you.
Any comments or questions for Gerry Berkin?
MR. CAVANAUGH: I have just two questions. The first is whether you feel that the Openness Initiative that has evolved so far has inappropriately resulted in any releases that give you pause.
MR. BERKIN: No, because I am not privy to a lot of the basic information that is available in Government now or what really has been transpiring. I have retired.
MR. CAVANAUGH: So there is no horror story out there right now.
MR. BERKIN: No, and even if there were, that wouldn't necessarily apply to everything. It could be one particular leak. You are dealing with people on the vagaries and idiosyncracies of individuals. Anything can happen.
MR. CAVANAUGH: Sure.
MR. BERKIN: I feel this is a useful program because it has to be looked at.
There are people in the business. First of all, I don't think security people should be involved in this program, if I may digress. Their biases and their innate interests are counter to what you are all trying to do and what I think is necessary, to allow more people to have access to this information.
I don't think journalists should be involved in this either because their perception is you give everything away.
I have heard journalists say very clearly it is the Government's job to protect it and it is my job to find out about it. That sounds very much like a game. It is not a game. I feel we have an obligation as citizens of the United States. We have an obligation to the taxpayers. We have an obligation to each other and to our families to do something that is sensible.
There is a pragmatic as well as a philosophical aspect to all of this. It costs a lot of money to protect information, a great deal of money, and those scarce funds could be better used to do other things than protect information, the release of which would have no adverse effect on the United States. It is pointless to do all of that. It is pointless to hold this and nobody can see it, only me, I know what it is.
I think it is wrong to have an army of bureaucrats involved in this process, people who have only a smattering of knowledge of the information you're dealing with, and they're the ones who decide what is classified or not classified, that is stupid.
You need people who know the bloody business, who know what this information is, what it can do if it got into someone else's hands, what can happen to us. We are not only dealing with weapon information, military information, but it is economic and political and others that can act to our disadvantage.
You need people who are knowledgeable. This vast bureaucracy over the years in the United States, with these tens of thousands of people, clerical, administrative staff, security offices, they want to bludgeon the scientists into submission. I will teach you how to protect stuff; I'll beat the devil out of you. Well, you wear tie tacks with little handcuffs on them. You scare people a great deal.
This is pointless, absolutely pointless. These are very serious issues that you are facing. So, even though I have digressed, I don't know of any particular horror story. I only say that there can be many if there are decisions taken very lightly, and if you begin to feel somehow that it is inherently evil to protect information, I propose that it is not. You just have to do things in a sensible balance.
Are there any other questions I can answer?
MR. BERKIN: Thank you all very much.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Let me say, Mr Berkin, that I don't view your comments as being a wet blanket at all. I am sure that it is important to the entire panel that we remember that there is a function for classification, and that I think the intent of this effort is to assure that information that is appropriately classified remain classified, and our objective is to make sure that there is a balance in those decisions and to make sure that information that is now classified that should not be is released.
Your comments are fully appropriate about the importance of retaining this certain segment of information in a very close and careful manner, and that is hardly a wet blanket comment. That is the reality of the work that this panel has to do.
MR. BERKIN: I really am reassured because by the nature of the panel and the caliber of the people you have on the panel, I feel that you will do a very good job, and I think the Secretary needs that kind of input, and I think the country as well because I think DOE will be a model for the rest of the Government, and DOE has been in the classification/declassification business as long as I can remember. They have really been in the forefront with how to deal with classified information and treat it and how to release it.
So I thank you again very much for the opportunity to speak with you, and I am very happy to hear that you are all doing your thing.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Thank you. We have come to the point in the agenda where we will adjourn for lunch, to return, I guess, at 1:45.
Let me remind the audience that there is an opportunity when you return from lunch for members of the public to address the panel. Any individuals who would like to take advantage of that opportunity should have signed up by now or very shortly sign up at the desk that is outside.
Good. So we are adjourned until 1:45.
[Whereupon, at 12:28, p.m., a luncheon recess was taken.]AFTERNOON SESSION
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CHAIRMAN MESERVE: We have come to the point in our agenda where there has been an opportunity that has been provided for members of the general public to address the panel to make their suggestions for things that they believe this group should address.
There are two individuals that I have who have put their names down seeking an opportunity to speak to us. The first is Jim David with the National Air and Space Museum.
MR. DAVIS: Thank you.
What I would like to do is just briefly address the record that I think should be reviewed first under the Secretary's order.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I think they want to put a microphone on you.
MR. DAVIS: Fair enough.
MR. DAVIS: In my opinion, the most valuable record by far are the records of selected headquarters components, the vast majority of records of headquarters components that still exist or are at one of three repositories in the Washington, D.C. area.
First of all, there is less than about 1,000 fee in Record Group 326 at the College Park National Archives. There are several thousand feet in Record Groups 326, 430, and 434 at the Washington National Records Center.
DR. MILLER: Could you tell us what those record groups are?
MR. DAVIS: Record Group 326 is records of the Atomic Energy Commission. Record Group 430 is records of ERDA. However, WNRC, RG 430 does have AEC records in it. RG 434 contains records of the Department of Energy, again at WNRC, RG 434 has AEC records as well as a small number of ERDA records.
Lastly, there are unknown thousands of feet of headquarters records at the two DOE facilities in this area, namely the Forrestal Building and Germantown.
With respect to the records in 326 at the College Park National Archives, they are very good finding aids, available, and it would be very simple to get a one- or two-sentence summary of the various collections within 326.
With respect to the records in the three record groups, at the Washington National Records Center, probably a one-day review of what is called the 01 listing, which is a computer-generated list by the Federal Records itself, as well as a review of the Standard Form 135's could produce a good summary list of the various sessions there.
With respect to records which are at the DOE facilities, Dr. Gosling in February 1995 sent out to various stakeholders alist of collections which are owned by the History Division. As far as I know, there are no comparable lists for collections at the DOE internal records storage facilities that are owned by other DOE offices. I would urge that the panel get some sort of comparable list.
Once these lists are generated, I would recommend to the panel that they review them carefully, and perhaps in some instances, for especially large collections, if there are folder listings available, you might want to request those.
After the review, I would suggest prioritizing the various collections at the three repositories for review. Again, in my opinion, the most valuable records are those of selected headquarters components, namely executive secretary, office of general manager, commissioner files which technically aren't, I guess, headquarters files, but personal paper collections, and then division of military application.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Am I to understand that the materials that are at the National Archives and at the Washington National Records Center have not yet undergone a declassification review?
MR. DAVIS: There are several collections in RG 326 at the College Park National Archives that are originally unclassified. Of course, those are available.
Let's assume it is roughly 800 or 1,000 feet of records in the record group. Most of the records are in classified collections. Most of those collections have not been reviewed.
I know Mr. Sinisgalli and his colleagues have been out there over the last two or three years, among many other things, of reviewing some of the collections.
With respect to the records in the three record groups at the Washington National Records Center, there are many originally unclassified ones, but I think the ones containing the records of interest to historians and researchers are all virtually reclassified. There has been little or no declassification review of them through the years.
Then the same holds true for the collections at the DOE internal records storage facility.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Other comments or questions?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Thank you very much.
I may be mispronouncing or misreading this name. The next individual who has asked to speak to us is James Bagley from RB Associates.
MR. BAGLEY: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity of attending and having the opportunity also for making a few comments.
I do have a few questions, however. Having been around this game for about 40 years, I would like to first give you a small anecdote.
In 1954, I classified a scientific fact that was being applied to undersea warfare; 1954, I repeat, a scientific fact.
In June of 1996, and I had nothing to do with it, I learned that a separate scientific panel of experts continued the classification of that scientific fact. I stress this because this is the problem that the people in the Department of Energy have, but also I might add that the DOE has a significant advantage over the other executive departments in that it has a law, the Act of 1946, as amended by the Act of 1954, and the relatively new changes that have been made on UCNCI, that horrible term, "unclassified nuclear-controlled information," if I am defining it properly, and the more recent enactments of relationships with the weapons that the Russians have put together in their lies over the years.
So you do have a significant advantage, and for others who might have questions on the problem and as you well know, declassification is a dirty business. It is labor-intensive. It is costly. It takes enormous effort to arrive at the fact that a fact has been declassified, and again, DOE has an advantage because when you remove those limitations and if there is no other national security information involved, the information then becomes public information, and the DOD, for example, must go through another process. It must go through that it is declassified and then are there any other distribution limitations supplied, is there proprietary information, is there personnel information or what have you.
Then the final little gimmick that I would have is, is there a definition of ownership that is legal. That is a good question.
Anyway, I applaud your efforts. Again, I thank you for inviting me. I would love to attend any other seminars or meetings that you might have because I always learn something, and I guess I am continually involved.
Thank you very much.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Any comments or questions for Mr. Bagley?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: We thank you very much.
Is there any other member of the public that intended to sign up that would like to have an opportunity to address the panel?
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CHAIRMAN MESERVE: If not, I suggest we move to the final item on our agenda, which is the discussion of a work plan for the advisory panel.
Let me say at the outset that unless there is objection from other members of the panel, it would be my intention to not go into executive session, but given that this is an openness panel, it would seem to me singularly appropriate that we continue in a public forum.
Not hearing any objection, I think we will proceed.
I think it might be helpful to the group of I set out a notion of how we might proceed, if only to have something on the table for wiser heads around the table to shoot at, the thought that it might provide a framework for our moving to some of the substance that we might get into as a group.
The Secretary mentioned this morning that she had hoped that there would be a report from this group in the February-to-March time period. By our charter, we are an Advisory Panel that reports to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. So what she means by that is that this group would then prepare a report that then would be submitted to that panel and presumably would be made available to public at that time.
Her intention, I notice from having spoken to her before the public meeting, was that she did not want us to feel too rushed in our work; that there had been some conversation that I had had with the staff earlier that had suggested that perhaps we should be aiming for some kind of output in the November-December time frame. The Secretary and I discussed that before the meeting this morning, and it was her notion that there was no particular need for report in that time frame; that that might well be a period of transition in the Department in that we ought to be aiming for an opportunity to be more reflective than rushing to meet an early deadline.
Obviously, if we have something that is ready to go by November, we need not hold back, but the thought was we should take ample time to do our work.
I think that we ought to think of this as a part of our purpose as a committee as much as anything else. It is to try to keep this openness issue on the agenda, so to speak, in that there have been several reports on the issues that have been discussed earlier today that were provided to the group. This was intended as much as anything else to be a vehicle for continuing scrutiny to the issue, continuing opportunity to raise issues relating to openness, and perhaps if there were a new Secretary of Energy in the February or March time frame, to have something that would be available to that person as to next steps that might be appropriate and basically to assure that this is an issue that sort of stays on the front burner.
That is sort of my notion of what we are generally about as a group and how we ought to proceed and with our aim of a report in that time frame.
I would like to suggest this afternoon that what we might try to do is to select some limited set of issues that we would seek to address within that time frame.
We have had a number of things that have been placed on the table and the issues papers that we have been provided before the meeting. There were other suggestions that people provided to day, including the Secretary who had identified a few of the issues papers. I think those are ones that were of particular interest to her.
What I hope we would be able to do this afternoon is to try to make a sort of triage of that list and to select some subset of them that we would try to address.
My suggestion, and again, this is subject to the group's sense of how we might best proceed, is that we would perhaps identify some subgroups that would work on each of those issues with the thought that it is very difficult to assemble this group as a group of a whole very frequently, but to have some smaller group of individuals who would take some responsibility to basically push the ball along with regard to the limited subset of issues, and we have, incidently, DOE staff who would be available to assist to do some of the leg work on that activity, with the thought that those subgroups would be trying to identify and prepare some written material that would then come back to this group as a whole for discussion by all of us.
I have been thinking that this was an extraordinarily difficult meeting to assemble, even with the great efforts that were made by people to make themselves available for this meeting. We still have one of our members who was not able to attend.
I know that assembling people for future meetings, having an opportunity for everyone to participate, is probably something that is only going to occur occasionally.
My thought was that we might try to get together as a full group again in sort of the November, early December time frame. My hope is that by that time that the various subgroups will have been able to push the issues that we select along and that we would then have some material from each of the subgroups that would be before us, and we would have the opportunity to see if we could converge as a group on all of the issues that are presented and to see if we can start to shape and use those materials to shape a report that would be this panel's report that we would be aiming to provide to the Secretary in the February-to-March time frame that she had suggested.
I think that this may be an efficient way for us to do our work. It does enable people to focus their efforts on particular activities in which they feel they have the greatest interest or background, and perhaps is the most efficient way we could use our time. My thought is that maybe some of the subgroups would want to assemble in one place, but that may not be necessary. Conference calls, exchange of mail, having the staff to leg worth and so forth may be a way we could make progress, although I don't want at this point to prejudge how any of the subgroups might choose to work.
So that is my suggestion, and that is only a suggestion as to how we might proceed, and I lay that process out for you with the thought that we would talk first about the process, and then with the idea of how we are going to proceed. We would then turn to have a conversation about the substance and try to select the areas in which we would focus our attention and hopefully draw some volunteers from the group who would decide to meet or joint various of the subgroups.
I am seeing some nods.
DR. NARATH: Without having defined the substance, it is difficult to be too critical about the process.
DR. MAHLER: That is one of my questions. It seems like it might be useful for us to spend 15 or 20 minutes, based on what we have heard initial blush, setting the boundaries and the topics. In the deliverables of the report, I was fine in terms of the process. I thought I heard that you had suggested that we take as the content the issues list that was provided in the report.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: No. I didn't mean to restrain us. I was really trying to suggest that we do have a series of issues that have been presented to us, and I just had flagged the fact that we had that issues list from the staff in the briefing books. There have been other things that have been suggested today, and there may well be an additional set of topics that this group would like to suggest, even though those issues haven't been presented to us.
I think the terrain that we cover is for us to define.
DR. MAHLER: I think that is good.
From a deliverable of a report, it is only fair that the sponsor ask for a report back and we get on the track. I think that is a very useful deliverable.
Are there any other deliverables we think are important in terms of principal generation around the activities for guidance?
I am not campaigning for it. I am just asking question. I probably have the highest naivete quotient.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I think our charter does tell us that we are supposed to deliver reports to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, and I am sure that we could have some flexibility in the joints of that.
There was a suggestion, for example, that was made that we might want to have a web page in which we'd have a capacity for the public to interact with us and perhaps us to interact with the public, and that certainly seems to me to be consistent with the task that we are about.
I don't know if that counts for a deliverable, but that is certainly something we could contemplate.
DR. MAHLER: In the deliverables opposite the DOE in terms of interaction or guidance, are there any thoughts there from anyone?
DR. MAHLER: Moving on.
MR. CHENEY: The Secretary has not asked for any other deliverables. There may be other interactions that add value in addition to the specific deliverables that come about as a result of the process the group engages in, but there haven't been other things that the Department specifically asked for.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: It is my understanding that the output we have been requested is a report, and my understanding from my conversations with Bryan and with the Secretary is that they have some suggestions for us to consider, but they have not directed us that there are a specific set of issues that we have been directed to address.
We have the opportunity to define our agenda for ourselves. Is that correct, Bryan?
MR. SIEBERT: That was the purpose of those last two Vugraphs, which tried to indicate that we really were relying upon your experience and thoughts about whatever you thought would be helpful in this arena. We had scoped out the Secretary and several of us this afternoon for some ideas, but as Dick said, it is critical that you remain unfettered by bureaucratic--to come up with a conception of what might be best to do.
MS. WEISS: I have a sense that perhaps before we go off into the subgroups that it might be useful, and this wouldn't necessarily have to be done in the context of a meeting, but I personally would find it useful to know what is the status of this kind of effort at the other agencies, what are people doing so we are not reinventing the wheel. What is the state-of-the-art technologically? I would love to know what that is. As a matter of policy and practice, what is happening at the other agencies on accessibility of records and declassification?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: It occurs to me that there may be a variety of areas, that being one of them, which we would want to have some information that would be available either to subgroups or to the entirety of the panel. That certainly is an appropriate one, and we could at least as an initial cut have either David or Bryan try to assemble that material for us. We might try today and people might think of some things. Shortly after the meeting, if there are subgroups that get together by phone, they may define some factual information that is essential that they assemble or have available to them in order to do their work. It would be important to get that underway promptly.
DR. SESSOMS: I had had some conversation over lunch about the need, I think, to have more than just information about what is going on in the interagency process and in other agencies, but to have a liaison.
For example, it is important to appreciate what DOD is doing in their Historical Records Review Committee because that will, in fact, affect what is possible for DOE to do.
I think it might also be useful to talk to Brian Litell and his folks at the Institute for Intelligence, or whatever they call it--I can't remember what they call it anymore--to find out where the CIA is leaning. I think it might be useful to have a liaison so we could continue the updates, not just snapshots, people just having the opportunity to participate to some extent in their discussions and vice versa. So we end up not ending up with recommendations which are at significant variance with where other folks are coming from because that will just confuse the interagency process.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: It seems to me that one of the essential ingredients of what we deliver in February or March would be to try to have some sort of a sense of this group, of the progress that is being made and what the problems are, and I think in order to do that effectively, I think having some understanding of the problems that the Department is having or the successes the Department is having in its dealings with other agencies.
DR. WILLIS: If we are going to give a report, it obviously has to be wrapped around a few key issues. We don't have unlimited resources in reviewing subgroups. We don't have unlimited resources. We don't have unlimited times. We must not be seen as going for the jugular vein of a third-order term. We have really got to pick our priorities.
If the report is to mean something when it goes up, it has to say something. It has to say something cogent, succinctly, and a matter of public importance.
One issue which has come up and follows on the work that Al Narath and his colleagues have done, he managed to get 50 people together. How he got them to work together, God only knows, but he did. There was a very cogent recommendation there, one which involves preparation for legislation.
I think we might be essential watchdogs if this goes forward, particularly as you come to a transition at administrations. So I think one of the subgroups might appropriately look at that to give their views to the Secretary as to how that should proceed.
Another one might be the public accessibility to information, not just declassification, but the public accessibility which has been raised, I think, quite appropriately. That one might be something that some people, a cadre of people amongst the panel might wish to address. The other one is how to address the issue of productivity within the Department. Those are just three.
I am not saying they are necessarily the highest priority, but they are ones that occur to me as priorities. Other people may have different ones.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Let me note that I had tried to keep notes and had had a conversation earlier this morning with the Secretary. As my notes would reflect, there were three of these issues that she had flagged in particular for us. You have hit two of the three.
One was the question of the legal. She called it the legal issues, which is the question of the legislation and whether there are legislative amendments that is possible. This seems doubtful to me that that is something that this particular Congress might be interested in, but after November, there may be some prospects.
The second issue that she raised was the issue of priorities in declassification.
The third issue she raised was this question of accessibility; that declassification is not by itself mean that the information is available in any fashion to the public. So I think that your suggestions substantially resonate with the things that the Secretary herself has identified as ones that she would like to have the group deal with.
DR. WILLIS: It seems to me, anyway, if we were to form our subgroups, and we can't have too many, around those, when we meet again in November or December, we shall have had the results of the election. We will see which way that cat is jumping and get some sort of feeling for it, anyway. We can tailor our recommendations to the political situation at that time as we see it, and I think we could make some valuable contribution.
It would be a shame if this panel would just become a "ho hum" thing with vacuous phrases. I think we ought to concentrate on making a substantive contribution with the brain power that is around here and focussing it on those issues. If we don't, the report in February and March will itself be vacuous.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I think Tom, and, Cheryl, I bypassed you, I'm afraid. Go ahead.
MS. ALEXANDER: Yes, you did.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I'm sorry. I am trying on my checklist to see the orders in which the hands have been raised.
MS. ALEXANDER: That is all right. I think Eric said most of it, but as I have been listening the last couple of days, what has stood out in my mind is, of course, oversight and continuity, and also how to legislate and to make sure that this goes forward as being our top priority.
The other thing that comes out loud and clear is that there are endless priorities and options and a daunting task of declassifying volumes and an incredible amount of information and just sorting through, and knowing what to do with the limited resources would give many administrations as much challenges as they possibly could manage.
So that, when the Secretary said for her environment, health and safety might be the priorities of what declassify or focus on, and we are hearing that we have got to be very, very careful about nuclear and that this is something that most of us don't know a heck of a lot about and wouldn't begin to make very strong recommendations that has to go back to the experts, is that maybe we should look at some of these issues that are of the greatest benefit to the public, the really fine work that has occurred at the National Laboratories which we haven't known about that does relate to environment, health and safety.
We somehow get through the boxes and boxes of documents with Ellie's suggestions of at least serializing and knowing what is in there, so there is some sort of a file list of what is likely to be in there, and pick the things that the public really needs to know about that helps our Nation go forward and leave those very tough controversial issues behind for the time being.
Then I think, again, is this issue of productivity. I keep going back to all the new technologies that are developing for document imaging and scanning and artificial intelligence, and when I talk to the experts in the field, because I do know some, there is brand-new stuff coming out that might really aid in the process, and clearly, productivity is a huge issue, and automation. Anything we can do to aid that process would make a lot of sense.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Tom?
DR. COTTON: I would like to, one, modify the suggestion of following the legislative initiatives and broaden that to including the promulgation of regulation and also any efforts to use the flexibility inherent in the Atomic Energy Act as it is written now by more creative or new interpretations or whatever that I am always in favor of doing as much as you can with the legislation you have before you try to get Congress to help you and change it, which can be a very dicey proposition.
Another area that came up, and Dan Reicher raised it and also Steve Aftergood brought it up, too, is the question of is it possible to get empirical measures of the impacts, either positive or negative, of this. I think for sustaining this sort of effort on the Hill with funding in the long run, we really need to think about what is it other than just hand-waving and giving sort of rhetorical benefits of openness. Are there any reasonable measures of things we should be looking for that could give more concrete evidence of contribution to national security, reduction in costs, whatever? I would like to think about that.
That and 50 cents gets you a cup of coffee on the Hill at least.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: That is a suggestion that Steve Aftergood had for us as well.
DR. COTTON: I would like to hear, in fact, Steve if he has more thoughts on translating that with some concrete measures.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: It seems to me that is something which the staff at least uniquely is in a position to be able to give us some guidance, and we obviously need to be reach our own judgments as to whether successes or failures are real or don't exist, but that is something that would be the type of information we would seek, aggressively seek.
DR. COTTON: One particular area that keeps getting brought up is simply cost reduction and to what extent are we able to get a handle on what he current costs of the security system are and any cost reductions that are attributable.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Al had his hand up a minute ago, and I will come back to you, Al. You had your hand up a second ago, I thought.
DR. NARATH: Yes.
First, what amounts to probably a more philosophical comment or question than a specific recommendation for a topic for us to look at, when I think of openness, I remind myself that there is a distinction between data and information.
There is a lot of material at the heart of the nuclear enterprise over which DOE has presided over all of these years that is really not understood by the public. You can't tell the public that we need to educate you, but I just wonder whether there aren't more effective ways whereby DOE in disseminating information or data can put the public in a better position to make rational judgments.
There is a fear out in the public concerning matters that are nuclear that is not matched by other risks which in many ways are far greater. I mean, no one minds a propane truck going down an interstate highway through the middle of a city. It doesn't seem to concern people.
I don't want to raise concerns about this, but that same truck carrying low-level radioactive waste is going to lead to a public protest that would make it impossible for that truck to pass.
This is not a very simple matter. What I am just wondering is whether under the banner of openness and the charter of our committee we might not be in a position to make some helpful suggestions to responsible people in DOE as to how they might package information or data and ways that would make it more understandable to people.
I have tried to be very careful how to suggest that we lecture the people, but there is an interpretive aspect to information we put out that can bear some creativity. That is the general comment I want to make.
In terms of specifics, my views are very much colored by the year that I spent following the footsteps of the NAS study. By the way, a lot of kind things have been said about my team. There is really nothing other than a great deal of technical detail which appears in the classified appendices that wasn't already covered in the NAS report. So I just want to give credit where credit is due.
I feel very strongly about legislative changes. In my view, at the heart of many of the problems surrounding classification at DOE is this born-classified concept, and the only way to deal with that is legislatively because the way the Atomic Energy Act now defines restricted data and defines who they are to be treated and so on, it makes it impossible to get around this born-classified problem.
Born classified made a lot of sense in the 1940's when this was a new field, and it really was uncertain as to what new surprises of national security significance might be uncovered. So it made sense for anybody to work in this field whenever anything new was done to have that automatically classified, but we are now 50 years later, and it no longer makes any sense. There is no longer anything more unique about this field than many other fields that I know a little bit about.
So I think there is a need to turn this thing around, and of course, in my team's recommendations, you will see an item that says give the Secretary of Energy authority to designate specific topics as requiring protection, so that it isn't automatic born classified and takes a proactive step.
This whole matter of formerly restricted data, we have got to get rid of most of this. It deals with matters of military utilization over which DOE really has no authority and doesn't have a heck of a lot of competency either. So to make DOE responsible for deciding what subset of that information really needs to be protected is putting the responsibility in the wrong lap. It ought to be moved over to NSI where it can dealt with under Executive Order, put the burden on the DOD.
There is no way to transplant classified material from FRD to NSI. It requires a legislative change.
Then, just to be a wet blanket for a minute, in today's world it is conceivable that topics that are currently not viewed to be sensitive could, with some additional discoveries, become sensitive. It needs to be authority given to the Secretary, in our view, to classify topics, even though they were previously deemed as not sensitive.
All of this is going to take a lot of effort to get through the Congress, particularly at a time when the Congress is intent on destroying DOE. So any change in the Atomic Energy Act, any attempt to amend it, will immediately unleash an effort to amend it more drastically than I might wish to see.
So, anyway, I am just repeating different words of what others have said before me. I think this is an area that we might follow with some interest.
A second topic that both studies identified as important is this matter of building taller fences around a smaller set of information. I mean, our system today is about as leaky as you can get, which is one reason why we have so much trouble. There is a lot of sensitive information on the Internet in which we can't comment. I wish some of that stuff had never gotten out.
The problem is largely on the DOD side, not the DOE side, because when you work in the DOD environment, you can get access to very sensitive information without any background checks. It is not all that difficult to get a clearance, a secret clearance. It then gives you access to restrict the data.
I think we need some ideas, some creative ideas. I am very sensitive to the cost involved to the DOD in building fences, even as tall as the ones that DOE has erected. It is a very difficult matter, but perhaps it is something that we could give more creative thought to that frankly my committee was able to. We stated the problems, but didn't come up with good answers. So I think there is a big hole.
Finally, there is a lot of talk about declassifying from the point of view of new classification guides and so on. I think all of us realize that the biggest problem is how to deal with all the paper that could be declassified without making any changes in classification policies or guides.
We have been told that there is a potential for automating the process of text analysis. I suspect in principle that has got to improve, but in practice, my guess is it is going to prove very difficult. Perhaps this is an area we could think about a little bit and get a little bit smarter.
A subset of this problem, I think, pertains to the matter in which you write the classification guides.
By the way, if the fundamental classification review report is finally accepted, there is still an enormous step to go from it to a new set of classification guides which you need before you can then declassifying additional information.
One of my fears is that DOE will spend horrendous sums of money going through paper declassifying against current guides and then a year later having a new set of guides and then having to read all of this paper again.
MS. WEISS: Which has happened in the past.
MR. CAVANAUGH: How do you avoid it?
DR. NARATH: The first thing you do is you push as hard as possible to get the report in some form accepted and then push very hard and provide adequate resources to DOE to get a new set of guides and do that as expeditiously as possible.
Some overlap will occur. It is inevitable, but it is conceivable that five years could pass before we get an updated set of classification guides.
In the absence of paragraph-marking in DOE documents, you would then literally have to re-read everything unless we get very clever. We haven't talked about this very much, but perhaps one could anticipate a new set of guides and begin identifying things that could be removed from classification downstream.
I think there is some fertile area here for some creative thought. I don't mean to dominate the afternoon. So, at that point, I will shut up.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Al?
DR. SESSOMS: I have just a few comments.
I think in the Energy group that was reporting, we had the opportunity to take a look at how one can define and sell the kind of bang you get for the buck, and it is incredibly difficult when you are dealing with widgets to quantify it.
I think it is optimistic to suggest that at this juncture one can begin to even qualitatively suggest how much money has been saved or anything else through declassification. I think it may be worth having the staff take a look at it and suggest to us whether it is even possible to do it, but under the present circumstances, what we have had to do is front load, with a lot of resources, efforts to declassify.
I mean, $22 million, the health piece, is a big chunk of change, and you may have gotten a lot of public goodwill out of it, but it hasn't saved you any money. It cost you $22 million.
I think we have to be careful not to make a case that is not makable. I really don't think it is makable at this juncture.
Certainly, if you are going to try to do a lot of automation, to increase productivity and declassification, the up-front capital expenditure is going to be huge, and initially, it will just look like a gigantic chunk of money you are spending to do this. I don't think you can convince anybody that you have had a net decrease in expenditure in this area, no matter what you say you have been able to do in the industrial sector or whatever. I think it is just dangerous. It is worthwhile seeing that the staff can advise us of whether it is possible or not, but I wouldn't suggest that we should spend a lot of time thinking about it until we have some guidance from it.
I think one of the things that we need to do is to take a look. I don't know whether it is the last draft. It just said draft. I have seen the group report that Al and his colleagues have put together, and it is very interesting.
If that is going to slide in the interagency process, we should have an opportunity to have the latest version. I would then participate in that process. I had the impression, from what I have heard, that is going to drive a lot of things.
It is also going to be contentious, is my guess, because there are some other folks in other agencies who are on the other side of the fence on this one, and I think we have to at least understand what is going on out there through some knowledge of the process as it evolves, so we don't end up wasting time. It may take a long time, but it is going to be really important. That fundamental classification review is a big deal.
I think one of the things that we might also be able to do, even though there is something going on, is to use this group to help DOE capture some of the energy in the interagency process.
For example, in AI, we can just, if only as kibitzers, try to insist in a public way that the Government talk to itself and participate with itself in some of these areas and pool resources. If it takes embarrassing them into doing it from time to time, it may be worthwhile, but there is a lot of money, independent of what has been said about limited resources. There is a lot of money going into this area in the U.S. Government.
I think it would be useful in everything we do to try to help DOE capture some of those resources and energy, maybe not directly, but indirectly, in that they can benefit from the results in the near term as opposed having to kibitz on the side.
It is one of the public things that one could do, public and private, but it is something that the Government will not do on its own. That has been my experience.
The State Department doesn't have any money, but the CIA and DOD will collaborate less than one anticipates in these technological areas for all sorts of reasons, different contractors if for nothing else.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Bryan, do you have any comment on that?
[Mr. Siebert pats Dr. Sessoms on the back.]
MR. CAVANAUGH: Does that mean, Allen, that in your view there is no real hope of ultimately ending up with cooperative funding from, say, the Department of Defense and CIA to help with the overarching declassification effort, that this has to be atomized as a DOE efforts and a DOE-funded initiative, purely and simply?
DR. SESSOMS: I would argue in the legislative process, given how monies are allocated, there is no chance.
I think one can drive it in the interagency process, but it is going to have to be driven from outside the process. They are not going to do it voluntarily. That is not how money is spent.
MR. CAVANAUGH: Can we help?
DR. SESSOMS: We can help by kibitzing. We can help by being knowledgeable and insist through that knowledge as outside entities that more should and could be done with specific suggestions, but they are not going to do it on their own. There is no incentive for them to do it on their own.
MR. SINISGALLI: That is the key. At least in the electronics area, it is to write standards or consensus standards, like ASTN standards, and make it attractive, so that when you exchange data. That is why we set up the G.W. Institute and tried to get sponsorship by other agencies, so far unsuccessful.
DR. MILLER: I want to speak to another issue, but just as a follow-up on that, the new Executive Order does call for an interagency panel, and I gather it isn't quite up and running yet. Is that correct? Does anybody know?
MR. SINISGALLI: I believe that panel is aimed as an appeal panel for classification potential or declassification decisions and not technology.
What we do have in the technology right now is the working groups that we have managed to establish with "the intelligence community," State, Defense, and the various intelligence agencies.
DR. MILLER: It is an appeals panel, but even when you start raising appeals issues, you quickly get into all the kinds of issues that we have had here, and it seems to me it might have the potential to deal with some policy issues.
MR. SINISGALLI: Specifically because DOE has classified data under statute, and the Executive Order is not applicable to its membership on that panel.
DR. MILLER: Oh, you don't? Well, that answers that question.
MR. SIEBERT: Another idea is that ISO should possibly take a lead in the sense that you are talking about it, in executing the Executive Order or not, by thinking about the automation of the Government processes in general without referring to us in particular. It is a reasonable thought, whether it is in the Executive Order or not. Why can't the executive agent for the President on an Executive Order, on an NSI generally, which has stood in place for many Presidents up to this one, be more aggressive on that issue? Why wouldn't they be a source of potential leadership on some of these automation issues?
I don't answer the question. I haven't seen the leadership coming from there on this issue, but doesn't it stand to reason as to possibility?
DR. MILLER: Richard, the question I wanted to address was the one Eric mentioned in his list of productivity.
We are putting a lot of issues on the table, and I am sort of seeing ways in which some of them may be grouped if we want to end up with only a few topics, but it seems to me that under productivity that two things that have come up this morning that I would like to see under that is the intersection with records management because it seems to me that there are an awful lot of unidentified and inadequately labeled boxes out there that we need a little bit more of a handle on to even know where that fits in with declassification.
You are only required to send to the National Archives permanently historical records, and it seems to me that it is only those historical records that you want to spend your time declassifying, anyway.
I gather that we don't even know of all of these boxes out there, the more up-to-date schedules of whether these are permanently historical records.
So I think the intersection of records management and declassification hinges on this determination of historically significant records. It is something that would be a part of productivity.
Another part is the part about new technologies, and I think we really want to use the new technologies, but on the other hand, I think we need to be realistic about them.
For instance, the National Archives has records that if you put on a shelf would reach 240 miles. I mean, a lot of people say we will put the whole National Archives up on the Internet. Well, you don't put 240 miles of records on the Internet. I mean, you can't digitize that much.
I am wondering realistically about how much of the Department of Energy records can really be digitized.
In one of Bryan's views up here, the view of the future, where he has the stack of records and the person loading them into the scanner and then they are coming out the other end declassified, the step that was kind of missing is you can't do all of the records this way. You may not be able to do very many. So how do you make the selection of the records that you put on the table that are going to go through the scanner?
There are a lot of preselections that I think we need to make, and I consider the new technologies and the records management intersections to be all part of productivity, and I think there are other things in that area, too, but I would like to see that as one of our subgroups.
DR. EARDLEY: I want to speak to two issues. First of all, I haven't had a chance to read the Academy report and the Fundamental Classification Review yet completely, but what I have read is very impressive. It is clear that one of our jobs is to familiarize ourselves with those records and follow up on them and help in any way we can. So that is a high-priority task for our committee. That seems clear to me.
Also, I want to follow up on productivity, records management, and new technology. It seems to me that is something where we can provide some useful advice.
On the new technology and artificial intelligence, I know something about these things myself, but not enough. I am hoping there are other people on the panel who have some expertise and familiarity with these things.
Do any of you people manage enterprises that are making successful use of artificial intelligence, for instance?
DR. CHENEY: Ed Mahler is on the panel precisely because of that.
DR. EARDLEY: Good.
It seems to me this is something we can help on, too, and we need to work on that and hear from some outside experts, too.
MS. WEISS: I am sitting here listening to everybody, and the list of things they want to expand on keeps growing.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I have got it down to five.
MS. WEISS: To echo part of Al Narath's point, and I think it is something that David Albright also spoke to earlier, is there is a need if the object is to inform, truly inform the public. There is a need to do more than just release documents in an undifferentiated, unorganized fashion, and there is a very fine line, though, that has to be locked because one does not want to do very much interpretation of the facts because it tends to raise credibility issues.
Quite frankly, the Department of Energy says X is true. There is a whole lot of people that will believe, therefore, X is false, but I think basic principles that are included within my understanding or my vision of the term of "accessibility" is that you attempt to organize your information; that you convey as widely as possible to the public what the principles of that organization are, how you have done it.
You attempt to give people the tools to use that information and attempt to make what you have done as transparent as possible. The ultimate goal would be for the Department to disappear inasmuch as it could as a mediator.
What I mean, for example, and I have to say this correctly so that it is not viewed by anybody as an insult, because it is not intended to be, I think that we have given, we being the Department of Energy, as a manifestation of its historical legacy--it has created the situation where the people who attempt to administer the Freedom of Information Act have an impossible job to do. The people who attempt to respond to discovery requests in various litigation in which the Department is involved has an impossible job to do.
It is not possible to say with any degree of reliability on any subject area within the charge of the Department of Energy that one has found and released all relevant information. It can't be done. So you are constantly getting in trouble with the people who have made FOIAs and with the judges who have asked that you swear that you have given them this time everything there is to find out there, when six months later you find something else.
So the ultimate goal ought to be to develop a pathway for people to find the information themselves and the Department to be less and less in a position of mediating between the people who want the information and where it is at.
I think that is what accessibility is all about. I have a broad definition of accessibility.
On the issue of whether we ought to be in the business of trying to come up with investments of cost savings, I share your concern about trying to find those kinds of numbers fora couple of reasons. First, to put a number on the table, it will be contested. GAO will write a big report about that number, and it will be indefensible in some aspect or other. It will be offered within some enormous range of uncertainty. So, if we can't really find something that is really very, very well defensible, I don't think that is the business we ought to be in, but we can, on the other hand, I think, provide some information on the cost of the current system that is not generally out there.
It is not a costless system, by any means, and I think we certainly ought to be in that business.
Point number three, I had hoped I wouldn't have to do this, but on that $22 million figure which came back from your mouth, I realize I will have to say something more about it for doing the human radiation experiments. It is truly a fictitious number.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: There we go.
DR. SESSOMS: That is why you are sensitive about cost estimating.
MS. WEISS: About $5 million-plus of that was the President's Advisory Committee which is, as we say, a high-maintenance group, and although I don't remember the exact number, it is certainly on the order of 9- or $10 million, were estimates by the field offices of what it cost them to provide us with these teams, and you all know the problems with that.
So the actual out-of-pocket cost raises a small fraction of $22 million.
With that, I stop. I yield the remainder of my time.
DR. WILLIS: I wondered when I was listening to the conversation. There are a lot of variations around themes, and I guess I am just sort of putting this kite up of whether we could have subgroups around clusters, not just specific topics or specific issues, but clusters.
I would, again, come with the first cluster I would put around the declassification cluster. It would bring in things like what Al Narath has been talking to us about and the problems associated with that. That is a definable cluster, but it does not pin you down to one thing.
The second cluster seems to come about accessibility, recordkeeping, things that you were concerned about, things that you have mentioned just now.
There are practitioners on the panel who have this at heart and are okay with the issues here. Some of us are not.
The third one was the productivity/automation cluster in which there is technology involved. I wondered if we could focus in on those clusters and then give the subgroups a real task to do to report in November and December with the idea of incorporating these clusters into the report for February and March.
That is the suggestion I have.
DR. MILLER: The issue that Al brought up, though, of pushing to be sure that this fundamental review makes it through and that the guidance is even written which is the next step after that--
DR. WILLIS: That would be the first cluster.
DR. MILLER: No. I think it hits all of them because it eventually affects accessibility, and it certainly is going to affect productivity because if you have got a more streamlined guidance, you will be able to declassify in a more productive way.
So I really think we could use your three clusters, but make that a sort of over-and-above in our primary objective.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I had it down into groupings of five, and they may overlap with you substantially. I had something we might as an overall group, and this will be something we monitor as a group, to assist in the overall progress. That is something we are going to have to report on. That would include the monitoring of the process in pursuing the Fundamental Classification Review. It would encompass the interagency issues. It would encompass the process in getting this rule out.
There is a second set of issues which are the legal issues that have been raised that might fall on your classification cluster. I say legal issues because that would encompass not only the prospects for amendment to the Atomic Energy Act, issues related to using the flexibility that exist in the Atomic Energy Act, regulatory flexibility that is there.
The third one, actually we haven't had much conversation about, but it is one that the Secretary mentioned. It is priorities in declassification. That might fall in your classification cluster.
DR. WILLIS: I had that in mind, too.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: That is one in which there is a large and diverse group of individuals and organizations with different objectives that are pressuring and understandably would like to be at the head of the queue in terms of the declassification effort, and the Secretary has asked for some guidance on that.
My personal view is that on that subject, it is a difficult issue for us as a group to address. I would like to come back to that.
The fourth issue I had was basically a series of how the productivity issues related to declassification. Part of that is technology, as we talked about, but part of that is sort of much more fundamental issues about just knowing where the documents are and brute force stuff that isn't necessary technology in terms of records maintenance, issues that Page had suggested.
Then the fifth area I had was this general issue that several people have mentioned as being accessibility. That has a technical component to it. It would include, it seems to me, and I don't suggest we reach a resolution of this today, but the debate that Al and Ellyn have had as to what role the Department should have in the digestion of information and the complications of it doing that. There is a cluster of issues that it seems to me are in that area.
Of those five areas, those five areas sort of encompass, I think, nearly or intended to encompass nearly everything that has been suggested around the table.
If we were go to at it that way, and I am not wedded to it, then I think we would have four subgroups because the overall progress issue was something I think we would want to follow as the group as a whole.
Is that acceptable?
DR. MAHLER: From a subgroup point of view, that is fine, but I have one final thing on the time dimension. The focus of what I have heard to day is the focus is on the past.
I heard some information somewhere today that said we are classifying more than we are declassifying. If, indeed, our purpose is to charge with institutionalization, it seems like we need to have a future component in this thing of stopping the bleeding.
I don't see that we have had a focus on that. I go back to Al's point about if, indeed, we do it and then we change the rules, we have to do it over, it seems like maybe we have a task to look to where the rule is going forward and with the mind set that might change, and with that mind set, that gives you the blueprint of how to attack the past because then you go back into examining the past, given some activity around stopping the bleeding at the moment.
As a question for the panel, I am okay. We can make it to past. We can make it to past and the future. We can do either one, but we ought to make a conscious decision about that.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I think that is a good point.
Let me give you my sense of that, and Al may have his view as well. The Fundamental Classification Review reflects a very significant effort that now needs to have its ripple effects to have its consequences, but if that is done, it greatly narrows or should greatly narrow the things that in the future get stamped as restricted data.
The work on that issue that is future-looking has been done at an intellectual level at least and there is a series of implementation steps and interagency approval procedures that need to be followed. That is a very important issue to monitor, and that is something that I would think would be encompassed in this sort of overall progress component of our work.
I have always believed and others may disagree that there is a very different and much more difficult problem about looking to the past in that you have this huge, largely undigested mass of 300 million pages of documents that are sitting there.
If today all the guides that come out of Al Narath's review were available, you still have 300 million documents that need to be reviewed in some fashion to bring them into conformance with the guide, and that is a huge problem that has to be addressed no matter what happens, and the opportunities you have to deal with the future.
There are all kinds of technologies that all of us can imagine and some of which we discussed in the Academy report about making the job easier in the future when you originally generate the documents. There is a whole series of things that one can do to make the job of controlling those documents easier for the future. It is this huge stockpile of material from the past that is the huge impediment.
MR. ALBRIGHT: Let me ask this as a question. I think Cheryl was actually recommending we stay away from it, but I am not sure we can. It relates to the future. Is the information that is going to be declassified going to actually contributed to proliferation? In fact, do we know the answer to that question?
Certainly, what I have seen is that it is effectively used against continued openness. So I am suspicious of the question, but I also believe it is a very important question, and I must say my recent experience in Iraq interviewing nuclear weapons makers, they only confirm that they are actively seeking out new information, and in essence, we are asking us, without knowing it, is this information now declassified.
I was told by one person here that yes, it would have been if hadn't learned that Iraq was interested in it. This is very old information.
So let me ask that as a naive question. Are we comfortable with that issue? Do we have an answer to it if it comes up?
DR. NARATH: I don't have the time, nor am I prepared to launch into a defense of a study report, but I can assure you that criteria that we applied was spread to national security, and national security to a very large extent translates into fear of proliferation. So the question we ask ourselves over and over again, will release of this information materially assist a proliferator, and I have perfectly a clear conscience of the things we are recommending to be declassified, I don't think will help one iota.
We are not recommending that any engineering drawings be released, any design information, any critical process information be released, but I have got to tell you, there is a lot of stuff that we protect. I don't think it is going to help anybody.
So I don't have any fear. If forced to, I would defend our recommendations in detail. Besides, I mean, you just can't hide from the fact that the world is overloaded with information. I mean, proliferators don't just have to go to DOE and DOD to get technology relevant to the design and production of nuclear weapons.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Let me just say that it seems as a fundamental level the question of the relationship of the declassification activities to proliferation is at the core of the political issue with which confronts this openness issue, and it is one that has to be resolved if this is to be an institutionalized activity.
There has to be appreciation that this declassification has not given away the stork. I just wonder how we as a group grapple with that. It is the fundamental issue, and it seems to me that DOE, as through Al's group, has tried to deal with that issue. Those are people who are inside the tent, so to speak, and if they are prepared to step to the plate and say we protected the right things and they have every incentive to be drawing that way that protects the core ingredients, it seems to me it is hard for us to give it more credibility, but I may be wrong.
DR. NARATH: For example, we spent a lot of time looking at the question of associations of materials with specific facilities or DOE sites.
At one time, there was a list of 200 such materials where people thought, gee, revealing the fact that at this plant at one time this material was used for unspecified purposes, it will give insights into our weapons, helpful to proliferators.
I have got to tell you, we spent weeks and weeks, and this got smaller and smaller. When we finally put it to a test, the list got down to zero. We just could not draw any useful information just from knowing that a particular chemical was used at Pantex or Kansas City.
If anything, it is going to cause proliferators a lot of time and effort to figure out what this is used for. So that is the kind of stuff, basically, that we say people do have a need to know about because they are concerned about health effects of chemicals being used in the production of weapons.
Anything that relates to design details, that is where we want the tall fences to be built.
MR. ALBRIGHT: Can I continue? My understanding is within the DOE recently, there was a debate on releasing information about the barriers for gaseous diffusion plants.
DR. NARATH: No.
MR. ALBRIGHT: So you are opposed to that?
DR. NARATH: No. Well, let's put it this way. You cannot--and it has been demonstrated--you cannot reverse engineer at the barriers. So we have no problem releasing the product that it covers, but we don't want to release the recipe.
MR. ALBRIGHT: Why are you so confident you can't reverse engineer?
DR. NARATH: Because it has been tried. It is difficult enough to make these barriers by people on the inside. It is a very complicated process, and it is very difficult to pull it off.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I think he is assuming as well that there are export controls that prevent the proliferators from getting the product.
DR. NARATH: No. I would have no problem with releasing the product. Once you put it out, the proliferator can get their hands on it, but I would sure protect the process that gives the desired properties.
They have actually put that to a test in years past at Oak Ridge, getting people to reverse engineer and then successfully. What you wind up doing is developing the process from scratch. I mean, people know the basic idea behind gaseous diffusion.
No one in his right mind today, I think, would invest the kind of money he did to develop that technology when there are much easier ways to do it.
MR. ALBRIGHT: Can I disagree? Iraq has stated that was the second priority.
DR. NARATH: That may be true.
MR. ALBRIGHT: It had an active program, and it got stuck on it. It developed a barrier, a very crude one, but it was trying about 15 different ways.
DR. NARATH: The technical experts or the people who really know about this process give assurance that you cannot reverse engineer the process. There are all kinds of measurements on it. It doesn't tell you how you deposit the material in the kind of physical form that is required to give you the separation efficiency.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I am going to have David write the five areas on the board here, and this is for purposes of people adding or subtracting.
First was overall progress, which I would see as being an overall committee activity.
MR. CAVANAUGH: Overall progress meaning assessing the overall progress of the Department's Openness Initiative?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Yes.
DR. NARATH: I don't want you to misinterpret what I said. I saw the Iraqis, the actual product--
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: That is what I meant.
DR. NARATH: But there are applications on a much smaller scale, say out in the chemical industry. That is the kind of product I was talking about. I want the record to be clear.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Second is legal issues.
Third was priorities and declassification.
Fourth was productivity in declassification.
The fifth was accessibility.
MR. CAVANAUGH: I think that looks good to me. I want to be clear on what is not on it and why I think it is appropriately not on it. We are not trying to redo the work of the Narath or Meserve groups. We are not trying to reevaluate the merits of the Openness Initiative, which by the way I think is sensible. An enormous amount of work has gone into that.
We are basically taking something that has been designed and is underway and trying to make it work better, but it would be useful to know if that is the generally shared view. That is my sense of what we are about.
DR. MILLER: Well, I understood that as what number one was, to advance those reports.
MR. CAVANAUGH: In everything here, we are taking for granted that there is something underway and we are trying to make it work better.
DR. COTTON: So you would interpret under overall progress the point Ed made, which is the progress on doing things with respect to generation of new documents. That is where that would fall, progress and reducing the generation of new classified documents.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Yes.
DR. COTTON: We don't want to lose sight of that.
DR. MILLER: You mentioned that we hadn't talked too much about No. 3, priorities, but the historical community in both the CIA and the Department of Defense, historical advisory committees, have come down very hard on the priority being what is called a top-down, oldest first, which would mean the top-down would be the Office of the Secretary's records, your top policy records, and the oldest ones first.
Historians are not that comfortable with selecting certain topics and just sort of picking records. We want to see how policy evolved, and we want the whole office records to be at the National Archives where we can go through these hundreds of boxes at our leisure and draw our own conclusions.
Just as a side point here, while I am talking about historical methodology, the question has come up about dissemination. I think that the Internet and the possibility of putting selected documents up is very useful, particularly for secondary education and for certain kinds of research, and certainly in the information and health and safety areas, but for historians who are doing research, they are not going to want preselected and just certain documents. They want to see the whole office file at some archival repository.
So I think that we are back to that sort of distinction between making information available and making documents available. When you make documents available, you don't have to do any interpretation. You just make them available. Usually, there are so many thousands and millions of them that you are just sort of putting them there for scholars to go through.
On the priority, we are still concerned that the Secretary's records from the Atomic Energy Commission are not all opened at the National Archives. So we are still concerned about 1940's records that are not available.
MR. ALBRIGHT: Can I say something? I think this is just a draw in the sense of competing priorities.
If you make ES&H a priority, you might comment in a very different way. For example, at Rocky Flats, the contractor had to go through I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of documents. What was decided was most of them are unclassified, although protected, because it is not known if there is some classifying bit ofinformation in them. Most are not that relevant, and the real documents that are desired are the ones that have the least amount of interpretation on the possibles. You are looking for original records, often handwritten.
DR. MILLER: That is what we are looking for.
MR. ALBRIGHT: But it is at the site. It is never at headquarters. I have never found any decent records. You said historicals at headquarters.
The accident reports, the details of the accident reports are over there, and so it is actually almost the reverse of what you are saying.
DR. MILLER: So you are interested in the implementation of the activity and what its implications were. We are interested in that, too, but the Historian is interested in how did it happen that that activity was undertaken to begin with.
MR. ALBRIGHT: But these might be accidents.
DR. MILLER: Oh, okay.
MR. ALBRIGHT: These might be unintentional release of plutonium during a fire. So it is a very different approach.
DR. MILLER: Right.
MR. ALBRIGHT: I am not arguing for this one. There has been a lot of effort spent on this area at various sites, but when the Secretary says ES&H, that has been a lot of what is at least out in the field with stakeholders and citizens groups. That is really what is meant, is getting the records out and original records that you can have some sense of, in a sense, tampered with in summaries and report-making.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: This debate reflects the issue that I had raised. I was somewhat troubled with how we were going to deal with this issue.
This selection of priorities, it seems to me, is a classic stakeholder issue in which there are divergent views, and the accident of the composition of this group might well govern how we would select the priorities, and that may not reflect in any sense what the real public wants.
If you lived in the vicinity of one of these sites, you are most interested in what were the releases I was exposed to. Whereas, people who are interested in the early history of our activities in the atomic era may well be interested in documents from 1946 at the highest levels.
You have fundamentally conflicting views, and it seems to me it is very difficult for us to umpire that.
That is not to say that somebody is going to umpire it, and maybe we could help by helping to frame the process that should be used rather than to think we are in a position to be able to make those judgments.
DR. MAHLER: Richard, I would reinforce that. We can't umpire that. We probably might serve a useful role in setting the principles for making a level playing field for that debate, and we might serve a usefulness there, but none of us have enough time left in our lives to take on umpiring a constituency debate.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: And that is what this would be, I think.
MR. SINISGALLI: Richard, could I address the panel just for a moment? The accessibility, I think, is a very important issue, and I think the panel should be aware that many of the records are either at the archives or moving towards the archives, and they are in control of accessibility.
The particular two collections that you refer to have been reviewed for declassifications. The archives has not release them yet.
DR. MILLER: I have to take issue with that because the final say on the RD is Energy's call, not the archives.
MR. SINISGALLI: We make the say. They own the records. We do not put them on the shelves or make them accessible.
DR. MILLER: But until you sign off of that--
MR. SINISGALLI: We have.
DR. MILLER: Well, from my understanding--
MR. SINISGALLI: If there are other agencies, it is their responsibility. We can't release other agencies. We have signed off on 80 or 90 percent of those records as unclassified.
DR. MILLER: I am just telling you that I just talked to people at the archives yesterday, and most of that is not yet available to researchers.
MR. SINISGALLI: That is correct. They are not, and they estimate two years.
DR. MILLER: Let me finish. Let me finish.
A memorandum of agreement is now being worked out between the archives and the Department of Energy so that you all will be sending a team over there to assist the archives in doing both the national security information and the RD information, and we are pleased and we hope that memorandum is going to go forward and that that will happen.
MR. SINISGALLI: There is an existing memorandum. We do have people there. They are working. They are working productively. The particular two collections have been reviewed.
DR. MILLER: Some of your people.
MR. SINISGALLI: Absolutely, yes.
The two collections that you are referring to will not be on the shelves for at least two years according to Jane Scheible. They say we are lucky of it is two years. Now, that is step one.
The revised MOU is another issue, as we envision to the DOE to expand the service.
Out point is accessibility. When you address accessibility, you have to say not only who has the equity in the records, who has the responsibility for review, but who has control of the record.
If DOE doesn't have control, no matter what you say, there is nothing we can do. It is out of our control. You might be able to jawbone archives, but if we don't have control and if the records are moving towards the archives, say from the History Division, even though we may review them and do something to make them accessible, once they move to the archives, they move into a new queue of accessibility, and that is a national issue, not just DOE, as the records move.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: There is a factual issue here that it seems to me is exactly the kind of thing we are going to want to dig out in part of our effort and not one we might need to resolve today.
MR. WEISS: I have one question about that. Is that delay at the archives because they index or organize the records once we have delivered them?
MR. SINISGALLI: They have to segregate the unclassified, split the corrections, organize them, complete their index, put the classified so they can merge it back to the unclassified portions and get them out on the shelves. They expect that to start increasing as the throughput from all agencies.
So a five-year window is going to be a seven-, eight-, or nine-year.
DR. MILLER: A seven- or nine-year delay for 300 boxes.
MR. SINISGALLI: Total. A five-year Executive Order will be seven or eight years before it is on the shelf.
MS. ALEXANDER: We keep talking about the higher fences, and I am wondering if as a responsible panel we should highlight that specifically. I know that probably falls under accessibility and priorities and all the different things, but simply to say we are addressing higher fences around more limited information seems to me to be something that we have heard four, five, six, seven, ten times today, and that ought to be on there somehow.
MR. CHENEY: Is that a separate thing?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I would have seen that as falling within several of these.
MS. ALEXANDER: Yes.
DR. NARATH: Accessibility has two parts to it. That is to make it more accessible and less accessible.
MR. CAVANAUGH: Let's just acknowledge as much.
MS. ALEXANDER: Yes, but make sure that we address that very specifically.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Employers love the ambiguity.
MR. ALBRIGHT: It is fine to do things in this country, but if another country has different rules and in a sense is willing to give away the store on particular commercial information, then we are only doing part of a job. So I don't quite know how to articulate this, but some effort to think about how we would get other nations to join in, and not just nuclear weapon States, the official ones. It could come out of Israel or South Africa or Argentina or Brazil, countries that we are closely allied to and have self similar interests or sort of repentant States that no longer have an interest in being involved in building or spreading nuclear weapons.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Let me just raise the question. It seems to me you raised an issue that has been raised before. It doesn't really seem to fall necessarily in any of these about international-related components.
I wonder whether we want to add that to the list. Let me say that this report that we hope to produce in February or March is not necessarily the final product of this group.
MS. ALEXANDER: It shouldn't be.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: There would be rolling agenda and other issues. We ought not anticipate that we have got to cover it all here, but I don't want to foreclose the group from adding items if they think they are important ones to address early.
DR. WILLIS: The reason I used the word "clusters" instead of "issues" was I didn't want to confine it so that there would be an umbrella under which you could have quite a few topics, but just grouping them for ease of addressing in terms of subgroups, we can't have too many subgroups. Those subgroups could have a fairly wide charter within that umbrella to address the issues that they feel are important to them.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: That is fair.
MR. CAVANAUGH: There is an underlying subject I want to just call out and make sure I am accurate about. In all of this, we are discussing exclusively, I take it, information that has some relation to weapons, to nuclear weapons under the Atomic Energy Act.
The charter of this group goes no further than that, and I ask that because there are other issues in terms of accessibility of information that has profound national security consequences that deal with activities, but I still take it that that is not the charter.
A specific example is information about the operation of the national electrical grid. There are significant concerns, I think well justified, about the potential for that kind of information ending up in the wrong hands and doing some significant damage to national security. Is that outside our charter in your mind?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I am going to do what a lawyer does and go back and look at the charter.
MR. CAVANAUGH: That is fine.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I had understood that our wedge into these issues was the classification and declassification issues. Our charter has expanded somewhat to include accessibility of the information, whether it should now make the leap to accessibility of information of different types than our starting point. It is a fair question.
I had not thought that we were going to reach that broadly, but I am not sure that our charter specifically forecloses us.
MR. CAVANAUGH: It seems to me we have plenty to do. So we can leave that for another time.
MR. SINISGALLI: There are classification issues beyond nuclear weapons classification issues.
MR. CAVANAUGH: Yes. It is clear that that is the heart of what we are about, at least to me.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I think that is clear.
The phrase that reappears in our charter is "classification, declassification, and other openness issues."
MS. ALEXANDER: The question that I have is about duration and progress and staging of what we want to accomplish.
If our job is to be here for a number of years or at least into this next administration, but not to look at February as our ending point, but our beginning in many ways since that would be the new time frame, my question is do we want to simply list our purpose and strategic objectives and this beginning view of what it is we are going to be doing these next years in this report in February. Is that a large part of why we are here, or do we want this to be very substantive and very detailed, and then what do we do? What is our time frame?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Well, I hope we will do a little of that. I hope that we can think in this report about sketching out why this group might be doing beyond February.
DR. NARATH: We are a subgroup or a panel of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, SEAB, right? SEAB serves at the pleasure of the Secretary?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: It is my understanding that the history is it has not been statutory.
DR. NARATH: Not statutory.
So I would assume that in a derivative way, we are sort of at the pleasure of the Secretary. So, whoever the Secretary will be next year, presumably it would determine what the fate of this body is. Not true?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I think that is true. My understanding, which is derived solely from David having asked these same questions the other day, is that the history has been one in which there is continuity in the Advisory Board typically from one Secretary to the next, and that everyone is not asked to resign if there were a new Secretary, but that there is a turnover. We have been chartered as if we are going to have continuing life. I think that is the expectation.
I think we ought to anticipate that at some stage there may well be a conclusion by the Secretary or the Advisory Board that our usefulness had ended, but I don't think we ought to anticipate that necessarily as next February or March.
DR. NARATH: How long is it going to take as an effort to disband this group if we don't need to reactivated next year?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: We have a perpetual charter at the moment.
MS. ALEXANDER: Then part of what we want to accomplish is to establish the value of this panel, so that somebody that may come in with a quite different view sees very little reason perhaps for ending the panel. Is that correct?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: That is right, or deciding after they see our report in February or March that we are not serving a purpose.
DR. MAHLER: Given that daunting view of the future and our incredibly long lifetime, do we have the discipline to take a seven-minute break?
MR. WEISS: That is a pretty arbitrary number. Where did you come up with seven minutes?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I will treat that as a motion for a very short break.
DR. MAHLER: Seven minutes.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Seven minutes. The clock is starting.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Let's get started. I declare that seven minutes has run.
I have one correction to make about something that was said earlier. I just learned that the charter for the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board needs to be renewed each year, and that is a requirement of the Federal Advisory Committee Act that I had forgotten about. So that, there is a renewal of that group that takes place each year. It has been customary that it has been renewed each year. One of the things they use to justify its renewal, I am told, is the good work that its various panels are doing. So it is sort of a bootstrap effect here for keeping ourselves in business.
Our schedule would have us adjourn by 4:30. I very much hope that we can abide by that schedule. I am sure some people have made flight arrangements and the like to leave here.
What I would like to suggest is that if there is no serious disagreement that we proceed with the notion that we have sort of one activity as a group of the whole that will sort of monitor the overall progress, and that we would then have the four subgroups that are listed on the panel to the right there. What might be helpful in determining whether that is a logical appropriate classification is whether people are prepared to sign up for some of them.
Since we are a group of 12 or 13 people, if people only were to sign up for one subgroup, that would be three in each which may be a little small. I would encourage anybody who has an interest in more than one subgroup to not be hesitant in offering your services to a second. That is not to make that a requirement, but that would be to suggest that.
We may make an effort. We would try our best to accommodate people's suggestions. There may be some value for achieving balance and so forth for our making some adjustments. We will do our best to accommodate people's requests. I would like to get some suggestions around the table if people are comfortable with this list as to what things they would like to serve on.
DR. MILLER: I would like to serve on accessibility.
DR. WILLIS: I think you should.
DR. WILLIS: I would have nominated you.
I wouldn't mind helping in the productivity one and maybe the legislative one. I will be bold or stupid, whichever.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Thank you.
MS. ALEXANDER: The productivity one.
DR. COTTON: The legal/legislative and maybe the priorities.
DR. EARDLEY: Productivity, and I will hold onto my second card for a minute.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I probably ought to keep my fingers in on all of them, but would focus my attention probably on the legal one. So why don't you put me down for all so that I am in the middle of all of them.
DR. NARATH: If you are not careful, you will wind up chairing them all.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: No, that is not going to happen.
DR. WILLIS: Just in time, Ellyn. This is the volunteer section.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: We have been encouraging people to sign up for at least one, but if they would choose to be involved in two, to do so.
DR. SESSOMS: No. 3 and No. 5.
MS. WEISS: I would like to do accessibility, which I am sure is not a surprise, and I will help out on the legal issues.
MR. ALBRIGHT: Nos. 3 and 5.
DR. MAHLER: Productivity.
DR. NARATH: Nos. 2 and 5.
MR. CHENEY: Troy Wade is not here.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: We ought to talk to him perhaps jointly and see where he is. We will get him signed up for one of these, or two of them.
MS. ALEXANDER: And Ralph is gone.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Pardon me?
MS. ALEXANDER: And Ralph is gone.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Okay. Is everyone comfortable with that? We seem to have a reasonable distribution of the load, actually.
I think it would be helpful if we would identify some individuals who would be prepared to sort of take the lead in initiating actions in concert with the staff in each of these subgroups.
I am prepared to some reflection to just identify someone, but if there are volunteers, that would be welcome.
Let me not do that today and I will notify you. We will talk and make sure we have the entire group assembled here, and then I will see if I can twist some arms and get some people to take responsibility on leads of the task force.
It occurs to me that one other thing that perhaps all of us ought to be thinking about over the next several days is to get this launched, finding and giving early notice to DOE staff of areas in each of these subgroups in which people would like to have information collected and the like. We have to be conscious of not asking more than can be done, but on the other hand, I am sure that they would appreciate early warning rather than, since we are pushing up on our next meeting, to have them learn that within a week or two we are looking for information of one sort of another.
There were some suggestions earlier today. I will go through my notes with David, and we will get some of those moving, but it would be helpful, I think, as people are thinking about each of these tasks that one of the earlier priorities for each of these subgroups would be to sort out areas in which you think there is some staff assistance you can get in digging out information.
DR. MILLER: We do not have, I don't think, the addresses and phone numbers of our fellow members, do we?
MR. CHENEY: We will certainly provide them.
MR. ALBRIGHT: Question. So you are envisioning that these are conference calls?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: I am going to leave it to each of the subgroups to sort out how they would think that they most efficiently could work.
If there is an opportunity for subgroups, certainly those of us who are in Washington in some of these could get together more readily than others, but if it is necessary for one of these subgroups to get together, that is certainly not foreclosed.
Any further thoughts about this?
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: There is one final issue that was raised earlier today that, David, you might be able to give us some advice about. There was a suggestion that really perhaps is consistent with our overall mission that it might be important to make sure there is a vehicle by which the public could communicate with this group, and a suggestion was made that maybe we could tap into or establish a web page, for example, as being one vehicle for doing that.
MR. CHENEY: Yes. That is certainly possible.
MR. SIEBERT: We have already thought about setting up a subset of our own individual buttons, so they can go directly to that page. Is that what you are saying?
MR. SINISGALLI: Yes. Basically, we have the open net page that has the Secretary's regulation stuff. We can certainly add a section on that. There is also a possibility on the DOE home page to add a button that brings the records to that.
MR. CHENEY: Yes. It can be linked to other links to SEAB and other related things in the Department.
MR. SINISGALLI: That is linked to perhaps a dozen spots, to link the human radiation, the GW is linked in, which links it to the CIA and other agencies.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: That makes some sense.
DR SESSOMS: I just thought of something. Intertwined with all of this stuff, in the end there is going to be something that DOE defers to the State Department, and that is, in fact, the international issues. It might be useful to have just a paper, one pager, on what the national constraints are.
For example, there are some things that we might think are reasonable that, in fact, some allies have. We should know what they are. It is in every single subgroup.
There are probably a few basic things like that, different topic areas, that will have to inform all of the discussions that maybe the staff could pull out and just do a short piece, like a pager or half-pager with just the realistic work is concerned.
MR. CHENEY: It seems like what other agencies are doing also falls in that category.
DR. SESSOMS: Absolutely. You have to know it.
DR. EARDLEY: You have a good point. For instance, we are a signatory to the Nonproliferation Treaty, which constrains us as a country.
DR. SESSOMS: There are some other regimes, the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Is there any other business that anyone on the panel would like to bring to our attention?
MR. SIEBERT: I just want to say that my office can give whatever help that you would like to have to make this work. So, at appropriate times, we would be glad to meet with panel chairmen or subgroups or furnish papers or whatever is helpful to make it work. So we are working as a team.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: David will be in touch with you over the next week or so to try to get some dates where we could make a schedule now of our next meeting. I am thinking about something in the November or December time frame. I would like to get that in everyone's calendar promptly, and I recognize it is not efficient for us to try to select a date here, but what we will do is we will get you to sort of fill out a calendar as to dates you are unavailable and we will try to find an intersection of open days where we can have the meeting.
From my point of view, Washington is the best location. Probably, the central focus of the committee is Washington. There probably is an opportunity to meet someplace else if it is more efficient.
MS. ALEXANDER: Minneapolis is so nice in the summer.
MS. WEISS: Is there any other place where we might meet with the objective being to get public input that we might not get if we were in D.C.? I mean, it would be nice to go to San Francisco. I mean, from the public input and outreach issue standpoint.
DR. SESSOMS: Chicago.
DR. MAHLER: In December?
DR. NARATH: I would suggest Denver and San Francisco.
CHAIRMAN MESERVE: Well, it is worth thinking about. There may be some financial constraints we need to think about here, too, but we will talk about that with David, and we will find an appropriate location for the next meeting.
If that is everything, thank you very much. I saw some old friends here and got a chance to make some new friends. I will look forward to working with you.
[Whereupon, at 4:05 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.]