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9/15/2010
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DARPA Solicits Declassification Technology Proposals

Defense research agency seeking input on ways to make documents available to the public without exposing sensitive info.




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To support an executive order by President Obama, the Department of Defense's research arm is seeking technology to help it declassify documents so it can make them available to the public.

In a Request for Information posted on FedBizOpps.gov, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said it's seeking white papers for the "promotion of new technologies to support declassification."

The agency noted the difficulty in striking a balance between openness and secrecy, a balance that becomes more difficult to maintain as the volume and complexity of information increases. The system it seeks to build aims to help departments and agencies identify sensitive information while still making declassified information available to the public, according to the RFI.

The technology developed will support the "Classified National Security Information" executive order issued by President Obama last December. The order directs the secretary of defense and director of national intelligence to help the National Declassification Center -- which was established in the order -- address cross-agency challenges associated with declassification.

In the order, the administration noted a distinction between information kept under wraps in the interest of national security, and information that is classified for self-serving purposes or so the government can avoid embarrassment. Defense and intelligence agencies are now tasked with finding ways to make the latter available to the public.

The move supports the administration's Open Government Directive, a transparency strategy aimed at keeping the public more informed about the activities of the federal government.

White papers submitted for the RFI should include a summary of the team or company, including information about their ability to support the work, as well as an overview of the new or existing technology that can be applied to solve the problem.

Submissions also should include an explanation of how the technology will help the National Declassification Center address declassification challenges, as well as an estimate of how much the technology will cost to develop. Implementation costs, however, don't need to be considered, according to the RFI.

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