NARA preps for new info control rules

The government has let "a thousand flowers bloom" with regard to marking sensitive information, but that is about to change.

National Archives and Records Adminstration logo.

Policies across the federal government for locking down sensitive but unclassified information are, well, a little federated.                         

Plans to create a single category, dubbed "controlled unclassified information," and craft regulations about its handling by government agencies and contractors who store such information on their systems are about to bear fruit.

"The methods that are applied currently are confusing and drive excessive costs. Allowing a thousand flowers to bloom in the manner of labels, markings, safeguarding techniques and all these kinds of instructions -- there's a certain amount of inefficiency here," John P. Fitzpatrick, director of the Information Security Oversight Office at the National Archives and Records Administration, said at a May 28 public meeting to update feds and stakeholders about plans for CUI handling.

The process was set in motion by a 2012 executive order.

The change in rules is not aimed at creating new categories of information to guard from disclosure, Fitzpatrick said. Statutory requirements, regulations and government-wide policies drive the decisions to tab information as CUI. To accommodate the demands of the entire federal enterprise, NARA established, with input from agencies, 23 categories and 82 subcategories of CUI in a registry, with links to the statutory or regulatory basis for keeping the info under wraps.

If the final rule on CUI handling is published at the end of the 2015, it starts the clock on a three- to four-year phased implementation. For agencies, the biggest change is in the marking of CUI documents prior to dissemination. A marking handbook is being developed internally at NARA with input from agencies, and the expectation is that every page of a protected document will contain banner information identifying it as CUI.

Agencies are also expected to protect CUI stored on federal computer systems at the FISMA moderate level for information security. NARA expects the IT changes to be among the most arduous for agencies. While an estimated 70 percent of agencies will have no trouble meeting the moderate requirement, some agencies that aren't accustomed to dealing with information controls are likely to face hurdles. NARA is shooting for all agencies to be in compliance by the end of the implementation process.

On the contractor side, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is due to release a new special publication covering confidentiality of CUI on nonfederal systems that sets security standards similar to FISMA moderate for contractors. The NIST advisory will serve as guidance for vendors who store, transmit and handle CUI on behalf of agencies until the Federal Acquisition Regulation is updated to create contractual standards for CUI.

This could represent a significant change for federal contractors. Fitzpatrick estimates there are at least 300,000 who have CUI in their systems. There are no plans for formal checks of systems to make sure they are compliant, as is done for contractors cleared for classified information. Instead, Fitzpatrick said, the plan is for contractors to certify themselves, and any checks will be done by agencies that have special needs, or perhaps in the aftermath of a breach. He urged contractors to stay involved as these requirements wend through the FAR draft rule process, so that they are not blindsided.

"It's really not until the FAR rule lands, the CUI rule and this NIST rule, that you're going to understand every implication on a company through the contracting process," Fitzpatrick said.

Privacy and decontrol

Some agencies are concerned about the disposition of personally identifiable information in their systems. There are some specific legal protections in place that apply precisely to government information.

For instance, personally identifiable census information is kept from public release for 72 years after collection, and patent filers are guaranteed 18 months of secrecy after submitting an application. In most cases, the law is less specific, and agencies are guided by regulations and policies when it comes to "decontrolling" information. Other personal info is protected by the Privacy Act and other statutes that apply to health and financial information, or regulations on information collection that are agency-specific.

"What we're trying to do in the privacy space is to recognize that that information is unique," Fitzpatrick told reporters after the NARA event. "There are times when its presence in the government's possession requires protection under the privacy laws in a certain way, and there are times when the laws say no, not as much," he said.

One of the goals of the CUI policy is to end the practice of officials reflexively stamping "for official use only" on government documents, even though they are not protected under the standards promulgated by the executive order and the CUI policy.

On the other hand, agencies have identified a few categories of information that are considered worthy of protection that don't have specific language in law, regulations or government policy. During the rule-writing process, NARA learned that federal law enforcement protected certain investigative information, including the identity of confidential informants, more by custom than by rule. NARA worked to create a provisional category of protected CUI that covered this area. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.