OPEN GOVERNMENT – Venice Congresswoman Jane Harman's  Reducing Overclassification Act, which aims to curb the excessive secrecy labeling of intelligence materials, passed the House and Senate Monday and will now be sent to President Obama for his signature.

Harman introduced H.R. 553 in 2009 and hailed the bill’s passage as a positive step toward fulfilling an Executive Order from August which requires uniform access to classified information for local and state governments. She stated:

Overclassification prevents the sharing of accurate, actionable and timely information horizontally across the government and vertically with state and local law enforcement.  This is a problem now rampant throughout the intelligence community and one identified by the 9/11 Commission as a major obstacle in preventing future terror attacks.
To change the culture from ‘need to know’ to ‘need to share’, H.R. 553:
    •    "Creates a Classified Information Advisory Officer to help state and local law enforcement and the private sector access intelligence and information about terror threats to their own communities;
    •    "Requires training and incentives to assure materials are classified for the right reason – to protect sources and methods.  It’s no joke that people die and our ability to monitor certain targets can be compromised if sources and methods are revealed; and
    •   " Requires ‘portion marking’ so it is easy to separate classified and non-classified parts of a document, and standardizes procedures so that information can be more easily shared.
H.R. 553 also requires Inspectors General of departments that classify information to issue reports and to share them with any Congressional Committees which seek them.