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New report on CUI makes recommendations for Obama

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  1. Freedom of Information
OMB Watch, a non-profit government watchdog group, released a report and recommendations this week on so-called secrecy labels for government…

OMB Watch, a non-profit government watchdog group, released a report and recommendations this week on so-called secrecy labels for government information.

It centered on the frequent "controlled-unclassified information" markings on documents that are not classified, but are mistakenly withheld from the public anyway in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.  

The CUI term was adopted by the Bush White House in an attempt to standardize a wide variety of terms government agencies used to refer to information it determined should not be widely disseminated but could not be classified. Prior to the adoption of the new term, the information was typically called "sensitive-but-unclassified," or SBU.

After laying out the history of the problem, the OMB Watch report offered recommendations for how the standardization process initiated in the Bush administration could be improved under Obama, and other areas of concern that need to be addressed.

For example, the report recommended a new memo from the Obama White House that would “seek to maximize disclosure to the public by prohibiting reliance on control labels in making FOIA determinations, requiring portion marking of records to allow greater use of partial disclosures, and establishing time limits on labels that would allow the records to be more widely shared after the period of sensitivity has passed.”

The Obama Administration has created an interagency task force to deal with the issue.