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Price tag for security classifications jumps to $11.6B

Jul. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEVE WATKINS   |   Comments
Federal spending increased dramatically on security classification activities including declassification and technical surveillance countermeasures.
Federal spending increased dramatically on security classification activities including declassification and technical surveillance countermeasures. (JIM WATSON/AFP)

Federal spending on security classification activities in 2013 tallied $11.63 billion, according to a new federal report.

The figure represents a sharp increase from the $9.77 billion spent the previous year, but the increase is entirely due to the inclusion this year of the intelligence community’s classification costs, which were not previously included in annual government spending totals, according to a new report by the National Archives and Records Administration’s Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees federal security classification activity.

Roughly $1.87 billion was spent by the intelligence community on classification costs, according to the report.

“The IC costs comprise 16 percent of the total government costs, an order of magnitude roughly equivalent to that of past years when the IC cost estimates were reported but not disclosed in the top-line figure,” the ISOO said in its latest annual report to the president, released Monday.

The largest spending increases in security classification activity were in the categories of:

■Declassification: 105 percent

■Operational security and technical surveillance countermeasures, which consists of bug-sweeping and electronic counter-measures: 42 percent

■Professional education and training: 37 percent

■Physical security: 36 percent

■Security management oversight and planning: 26 percent

■Personnel security: 10 percent

■Classification management: 8 percent

By far, the biggest spending category is protection and maintenance for classified information systems, which consumed $4.4 billion in 2013, followed by physical security, which cost $2.3 billion, and then by security management, oversight and planning, which cost almost $2.2 billion, according to the report.

The National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office began tracking government spending on security classification activities in 1995 — then, total costs totaled a mere $2.7 billion. The costs have been steadily rising since, and in 2010 they topped $10 billion.

The report also estimates security classification costs for industry: In 2013, that figure was $1.07 billion, a decrease of $126 million, or 11 percent.

The combined cost estimate for government and industry, according to the report, is $12.7 billion, an increase of 16 percent from the previous year.

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