[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 89 (Friday, May 8, 1998)]
[Pages 25737-25738]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-12343]


Federal Register / Vol. 63, No. 89 / Friday, May 8, 1998 / Notices

[[Page 25737]]


Procedures for Obtaining Access to National Security Council 
(NSC) Records

AGENCY: National Security Council.

ACTION: Notice of NSC Issuance of Access Procedures.


SUMMARY: The NSC is today publishing a Removal of Final Rule in the 
Federal Register that removes the NSC regulations for processing 
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for NSC records. Although 
NSC records are no longer subject to disclosure under the FOIA, a 
Presidential Memorandum of March 24, 1994, directed the NSC to 
establish procedures for continued public access to appropriate NSC 

DATES: These procedures take effect on May 8, 1998.


Public Access to National Security Council Records


Sec. 1.1  Background
    As an organization in the Executive Office of the President that 
advises and assists the President, the National Security Council (NSC) 
is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). However, the 
NSC accepts and processes requests from the public and releases 
information as appropriate on a discretionary basis.
Sec. 1.2  Purpose
    These procedures set forth an orderly process for public access to 
important national security information, consistent with protecting 
national security, ensuring the rights of individuals, and promoting 
open and effective government.

Requests From the Public for Records

Sec. 2.1  Access Policy
    a. The NSC will review for release: (1) certain records of the 
current administration: namely, those internal records created by and 
transmitted exclusively among NSC staff members as well as all 
communications sent or received from outside the Executive Office of 
the President; and (2) records remaining in NSC custody from past 
Presidential administrations.
    b. Because of the NSC's statutory role in advising and assisting 
the President with respect to national security issues, many of the 
records maintained by the NSC are extremely sensitive; most are 
classified under Executive Order 12958 or predecessor orders. 
Consequently, a main emphasis of the NSC staff in reviewing records for 
release to the public is assuring that sensitive national security 
information remains protected as records are released. In releasing 
documents, the NSC will follow generally accepted access principles, 
such as those articulated in FOIA case law.
    c. Records of the current administration are not subject to the 
mandatory review provisions of Executive Order 12958. However, all 
requests for classified records not otherwise restricted will be 
processed in a manner consistent with the mandatory review provisions 
of Executive Order 12958, or its successor.
    d. A record, or portion thereof, may be exempted from release only 
if it contains information within one or more of the following 
    1. Information that is specifically authorized under criteria 
established by an Executive Order to be kept secret in the interest of 
national defense or foreign policy and is in fact properly classified 
pursuant to such Executive Order.
    2. Information relating to appointments to Federal office or 
entirely to the internal practices of the NSC, including formats 
maintained in confidence to authenticate internal issuances.
    3. Information that is specifically exempted from disclosure by 
    4. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained 
from a person and privileged or confidential.
    5. Communications requesting or submitting advice, or any other 
privileged communications, between presidential advisers, including NSC 
staff, or between NSC staff and other government officials.
    6. Personnel files and similar information the disclosure of which 
would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
    7. Information compiled for law enforcement purposes.
Sec. 2.2  Submitting Requests for Records
    All requests from the public for records should be addressed to: 
Director, Access Management, National Security Council, Washington, 
D.C. 20504. Requests for records must be sufficiently specific to 
enable the NSC staff to locate the record with a reasonable amount of 
effort. When a request does not reasonably and specifically describe 
the record sought, the NSC staff will notify the requester that no 
further action will be taken until additional information is provided, 
or the scope of the request is narrowed.
Sec. 2.3  Processing Requests for Records
    a. The NSC staff will process and answer all requests, including 
conducting searches for responsive records, providing copies of all 
releasable records, providing a negative reply if no responsive records 
are located, and providing a reason for withholding of any record or 
portion thereof.
    b. Public requests to the NSC are generally handled on a ``first-
in/first-out'' basis. The Access Management Staff will maintain a queue 
of requests and will service each request in turn. In the interest of 
economy and efficiency the staff may establish separate queues for 
requests of different degrees of difficulty.
    c. There are three routine procedural exceptions to this ``first-
in/first-out'' policy: (1) when it is readily apparent that requested 
documents have been previously declassified and released, the request 
is answered without regard to its position in the queue; (2) when a new 
document request is identical to or involves part of a previous but 
still pending document request (i.e., no additional research is 
required), the new request is processed along with the pending request; 
and (3) when the processing of a particular request requires 
coordination with agencies of subject matter interest, a response 
cannot be provided to a requester until the coordination is complete.
    d. Exceptions to the ``first-in/first-out'' policy may also be made 
in order to hasten response to (1) requests that may affect the 
personal safety of an individual or (2) requests that are of broad and 
pressing public interest.
    e. In order to assure equitable access to records by all members of 
the requesting public, initial production of documents in response to 
any single request, at the discretion of the Access Management staff, 
may be limited to what can reasonably be retrieved without burdensome 
effort. After the initial production of documents the request will be 
placed at the end of the queue to await further action in turn after 
other waiting requesters have been served.
    f. After any materials responsive to a particular public request 
are collected, they are reviewed for declassification and release. In 
reviewing documents for declassification, the Access Management staff 
often seeks the subject matter expertise of interested Federal 
agencies. This expertise is obtained through the referral of copies of

[[Page 25738]]

responsive documents to appropriate agencies for review and 
recommendation or through consultation.
    g. Copies of responsive documents that were originated by a Federal 
agency but located among NSC files may be referred to the originating 
agency for a release determination and direct response by the agency to 
the requester.
    h. In light of the NSC's official recordkeeping practices, records 
normally will be made available in paper form. Exceptions to this 
policy will be made where electronic versions of records exist in an 
accessible form, and it is feasible for the NSC to provide public 
access to records in that form.
Sec. 2.4  Requests for Reconsideration
    a. Requests for reconsideration of decisions not to release 
requested documents, or portions thereof, should be addressed to the 
Executive Secretary, National Security Council, Washington, D.C. 20504, 
within sixty (60) days from the date the requester receives written 
notification of the denial. This appeal process does not include 
reconsideration of notifications that no responsive documents were 
located in a search of NSC files.
    b. Requests for reconsideration will be placed in a separate queue 
to be acted on in turn. The Access Management staff will process such 
requests as expeditiously as possible.
Sec. 2.5  Availability of Released Records
    Upon release to an individual requester, NSC numbered policy 
documents are also deposited with the National Archives and Records 
Administration for general public reference.
Sec. 2.6  Fee Schedule
    The NSC reserves the right to establish a fee schedule for the 
search and reproduction of information available under this public 
access policy.
Glyn Davies,
Executive Secretary.
[FR Doc. 98-12343 Filed 5-7-98; 8:45 am]