Reducing Over-Classification Act

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Article summary (how summaries work)
The Reducing Over-Classification Act (H.R. 553) requires "the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a strategy to prevent over-classification of security information and improve the access of state and local law enforcement, as well as the public, to DHS documents."[1]


Current Status


According the Speaker's page on Homeland Security Bills, the bill:[1]

  • Enhances accountability by requiring the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop and administer policies, procedures, and programs to prevent the over-classification of security information.
  • Requires that all classified intelligence products created at DHS be simultaneously created in a standard unclassified format – in an effort to expand the amount of material that is shared with state and local officials, including law enforcement officials.
  • Requires “portion marking,” which requires classification marks to sensitive portions of the text and permits the remainder of the document to remain unclassified and shared with state and local officials, including law enforcement officials.
  • Includes provisions for employee training, limits on who can classify documents, requiring regular audits, and establishing penalties for staff who repeatedly fail to comply with classification policies after notice and an opportunity for re-training.

Passage in the House

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), passed the House by voice vote on February 3, 2009.[2]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s page on Homeland Security Bills.
  2. OpenCongress info page on the Reducing Over-Classification Act.

External resources

External articles

Jim Abrams, "Congress opens secrets to local first responders", Associated Press, February 3, 2009.