To require the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a strategy to prevent the over-classification of homeland security and other information and to promote the sharing of unclassified homeland security and other information, and for other purposes.

2/3/2009--Passed House without amendment.    (There is 1 other summary)

(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The summary has been expanded because action occurred on the measure.)

Reducing Over-Classification Act of 2009 - (Sec. 3) Amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and administer policies, procedures, and programs (policies) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent the over-classification of homeland security, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and other information within the scope of the information sharing environment established under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 that must be disseminated to prevent and collectively respond to acts of terrorism.

Requires the Secretary to coordinate with the Archivist of the United States and consult with representatives of state, local, tribal, and territorial government and law enforcement, organizations with expertise in civil rights, civil liberties, and government oversight, and the private sector to develop such policies.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) create standard classified and unclassified formats for finished DHS intelligence products; (2) require that all such products be simultaneously prepared in the standard unclassified format, provided that such unclassified product would reasonably be expected to be of benefit to a state, local, tribal or territorial government, law enforcement agency or other emergency response provider, or the private sector, based on input provided by the Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group Detail; (3) ensure that such policies protect the national security as well as the information privacy and legal rights of U.S. persons; (4) establish an ongoing auditing mechanism that randomly selects classified information from each DHS component to assess whether applicable classification regulations have been followed, describe any problems with their administration, and recommend improvements in awareness and training to address the problems identified; (5) establish a process whereby employees may challenge original classification decisions and be rewarded for successful challenges resulting in the removal or downgrading of classification markings; (6) inform employees and contractors that failure to comply could subject them to a series of penalties; and (7) institute such penalties.

(Sec. 4) Requires the Secretary to: (1) assess technologies by which an electronic identifying marker can be assigned to each DHS employee and contractor with original classification authority to track which documents have been classified by a particular employee or contractor, determine the circumstances when such documents have been shared, identify and address over-classification problems, and assess the information sharing impact of any such problems or misuse; (2) develop an implementation plan for a DHS standard for such technology; and (3) provide a copy of the implementation plan to the House and Senate homeland security committees.

Directs the Secretary, in coordination with the Archivist, to: (1) require annual training for each DHS employee and contractor with classification authority or those responsible for analyzing, producing, or communicating written classified information; and (2) ensure that such program is conducted efficiently in conjunction with any other security, intelligence, or other training programs required by DHS to reduce the costs and administrative burdens associated with the additional training required.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) implement a program to detail DHS personnel to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for one year for purposes of training and educating DHS personnel to better understand classification authorities, bolstering NARA's ability to conduct oversight, and ensuring that the policies and procedures established by the Secretary remain consistent with those established by the Archivist; (2) ensure that the program includes at least one individual for eachDHS office with delegated original classification authority; and (3) report to Congress, in coordination with the Archivist, on the advisability of expanding the program on a government-wide basis and on the administrative and monetary costs of full compliance. Terminates the program on December 31, 2012.

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