DOD Should Give Better Guidance and Training to Contractors Who Classify National Security Information

Gao ID: PLRD-81-3 March 23, 1981

GAO reviewed the classification and marking of national security imformation by Department of Defense (DOD) contractors. In evaluating contractor compliance with the classification program requirements of Executive Order 12065 and the Department of Defense, GAO visited 20 contractors and sent 600 questionnaires to about 600 contractors nationwide.

Despite the specific requirements of the Executive Order and implementing instructions, GAO found: classification guidance was approved and issued by DOD contracting officers and security personnel who did not have original classification authority; classification guidance furnished by DOD was outdated, vague, inconsistent, and oral; and information was originally classified by contractor employees who were not authorized original classifiers. About 51 percent of the documents examined had one or more classification errors. While most contained some information that was overclassified, some contained information that was underclassified; about 90 percent of the documents were improperly marked for classification. GAO concluded that DOD needs to improve the classification guidance furnished to contractors; its program for training contractor employees in classification managment; and its program for inspecting contractor compliance with the Order, implementing instructions, and classification guidance.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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