the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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Wrapping up the Declassification Policy Forum

As members of the Public Interest Declassification Board, we would like to thank each of you who have participated in the Declassification Policy Forum over the last several weeks. We have received over 150 comments with specific, detailed recommendations for revisions to Executive Order 12958, as amended, "Classified National Security Information."
Your recommendations were not only informative for us as members of the Public Interest Declassification Board, but we are certain they will inform the internal review of Executive Order 12958, as amended. To support this review process and to answer the request of the National Security Advisor, we have responded with a letter (pdf) and a summary of your recommendations (pdf). While we have attempted to capture the key themes we saw in our letter, we have also provided a detailed summary of your comments.
The Declassification Policy Forum allowed us to have an extended three-week conversation with the people we strive to represent – the public. The use of a blog, as a new media tool to facilitate public participation, provided everyone the benefit of seeing the ongoing conversation when they formulated their comments. We have seen how effective the tool was at elevating the level of discussion around the topics of classification and declassification policy. We will look to use online tools to enhance our conversation with the public in the future, but we also hope this experiment will give inspiration to other areas of policy that stand to greatly benefit from harnessing the collective wisdom and insight of the public.
Our democracy depends on both an engaged and informed citizenry. Citizens’ access to information about the Government is essential to their informed decisions and their ability to hold elected officials accountable. Classification and declassification policy directly impacts citizens’ access to Government information. We believe this policy has been strengthened by the enthusiastic and substantive public participation in the Declassification Policy Forum. We thank you for participation in this important policy area and look forward to working with you in the future.