Protection of Classified Information by Congress: Practices and Proposals
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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The protection of classified national security and other controlled information is of concern not only to the executive branch, which determines what information is to be safeguarded for the most part, but also to Congress, which uses such information to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities. As a result, Congress has established procedures and mechanisms to protect controlled information in its custody. These arrangements, however, differ between the House and the Senate and among panels in each chamber. The Senate, for instance, has established an Office of Senate Security to centralize responsibility for personnel and information security, whereas the House has not created a counterpart. There have been a number of proposals from congressional bodies, government commissions, and other groups, suggesting changes in the current procedures for handling and protecting classified information in the custody of Congress. These proposals have focused, for the most part, on establishing uniform standards for relevant congressional offices and employees and increasing the access eligibility requirements for both Members and staff. These suggestions, some of which might be controversial or costly, include the following Establish an Office of Security for the House of Representatives, along with a comprehensive security manual, similar to the Senates devices Mandate that Members of Congress have security clearances to be eligible for access to classified information Direct Senators or Senate employees to take or sign a secrecy oath to be eligible for access to classified information Direct all cleared staff -- or possibly just those cleared for the highest levels -- to file Financial Disclosure Statements annually and Require polygraph examinations andor drug tests for staff to be eligible for access to classified information. This report will be updated as conditions require.
- Information Science
- Government and Political Science