NARA security classification chief steps down

J. William Leonard, director of the National Archives and Records Administration’s Information Security Oversight Office, has resigned, the agency announced today.

In this role since 2002, Leonard has been responsible for overseeing the policies of the governmentwide security classification system and the National Industrial Security Program for the Bush administration. Prior to joining NARA, Leonard held a series of information security jobs at the Defense Department throughout his award-winning federal civil service career, which spanned more than 30 years.

"Bill Leonard personifies the true meaning of a public servant," Allen Weinstein, U.S. archivist, said in statement. "He has provided a moral compass for the Information Security Oversight Office and for the National Archives as a whole.”

“He has the experience and the background to make people take him seriously, said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel for the National Security Archive at The George Washington University. “When he speaks, it comes with a whole history that he has dealing with classified information in the military. We think very highly of him and we are sad that he is going to be leaving.”

“He’s someone that comes to it with a full understanding of why we need to keep secrets and a full understanding of why we don’t want to keep too many secrets,” she added, explaining that Leonard was a powerful force at NARA and will be difficult to replace.

In his resignation letter, Leonard said he was particularly proud of overseeing the beginnings of an automatic declassification process for nonsensitive national security information within the executive branch.

"The integrity of the security classification system is essential to our nation's continued well-being, yet it will not be maintained on its own,” Leonard said in his resignation letter to the archivist. “It requires clear, forceful and continuous leadership to make it happen.”
NARA has not named a replacement yet.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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