“It was at one end of a very long funnel,” said Aftergood. “Their input may be briefly read and considered, but it won’t be given the same weight as the agencies that have to comply with the executive order.”
Bosanko, in his dual role as a member of the interagency group and the PIDB’s secretary, was a connection between the review process and the public comment generated on the project’s blog. While he declined to comment onwhat the interagency group would be recommending to the president, he says that ideas and proposals raised on the blog forum were regularly cited, weighed, and discussed by the decision makers.
The panel’s recommendations, whatever they may be, can’t begin to impact the classification system until they become a signed executive order. After that, there will be a months- to years-long period of ramping up, as the ISOO writes administrative guidance refining the implementation. There will be a major effort to retrain the nation’s classification officers. And if, as is expected, the order produces a new National Declassification Center, there will be all the effort required to create an entirely new government entity, requiring cooperation and staff from agencies throughout the executive branch.
“Just like the classification system itself, where there’s an inherent tension about what is open and what is closed, you have that same tension with policy and what is implementable,” says Bosanko, before listing some of the challenges to reforming the classification system: “The level of change you can foster in a bureaucracy in a given period of time, the amount of culture you have to over come, the budgetary limits you have on an agency’s ability to change, the cost to train a work force, when you factor in all of those different things, its very difficult to come up with something that all the agencies are going to embrace, and be willing to accept, and which the public accepts… it’ll be interesting.”