Good News for the NSA: There Are 42% Fewer New Secrets for Future Edward Snowdens to Leak

A screen in Hong Kong shows an interview with NSA leaker Edward Snowden. A screen in Hong Kong shows an interview with NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Vincent Yu/AP

One of the reasons former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was able to get away with stealing top-secret documents about government surveillance programs is because Washington’s system of classifying national security information is badly broken. So many entire categories of data are classified—from how surveillance programs like PRISM work to the altitude at which US warplanes fly—that an astounding 4.9 million people are required to have “Top Secret” clearances just to do their jobs as government officials or, like Snowden, as private-sector contractors working on defense and intelligence matters. The system of vetting these people for clearances is dysfunctional, and national-security experts like former House intelligence committee chairwoman Jane Harman have said recently that the Snowden case is a good example of that.

But the problems extend far beyond who gets security clearances. So says the latest annual report (pdf), published June 20, by the Information Security Oversight Office, whose job is to get agencies to classify fewer documents and to declassify many more of them while making sure that real secrets stay secret.

The ISOO estimates that the government and its contractors spent $11 billion last year on “security classification activities”—plus an estimated 20% more for the CIA, NSA and other agencies whose activities are too secret to even mention in the report. The good news is that this is 13%, or $1.7 billion, less than the year before.

Read more at Quartz

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.