Oversight Committee Chairs, Rep. Porter Call on DOD to Publicly Release Information About Military Weapon Systems
Washington, D.C. (February 23, 2022)— Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform; Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security; Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations; and Rep. Katie Porter, Vice Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, sent a letter to the Department of Defense (DOD) expressing their concern that the Department of Defense and armed services have inappropriately limited the public’s access to information related to U.S. taxpayer-funded military weapon systems by excessively marking it as controlled unclassified information (CUI).
“As DOD works to protect sensitive details about U.S. military weapon systems, the Department must strike a balance to ensure that sensitive information is handled appropriately, while information in the public interest is not kept secret,” the Members wrote. “Increased secrecy will result in less transparency and accountability regarding the efficacy of these systems.”
On January 26, 2022, DOD’s Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) released its annual report for fiscal year (FY) 2021, as required by law. These annual reports have historically provided Congress and the American people with objective evaluations about the effectiveness, viability, and suitability of major weapons systems.
Previously, DOT&E has produced its annual reports to the public in an unclassified format. However, in a break from precedent, the FY 2021 annual report includes both a public and CUI version. The public version of the annual report has been stripped of key details about several weapons systems, including information that was provided in prior public reports.
In their letter, the Members expressed concern that excessively marking information as CUI limits oversight of military weapons systems, restricts the ability of U.S. taxpayers to evaluate these weapons systems for themselves, and hinders Congress’s ability to address and correct problems with these systems.
Chairman Lynch, Chairman Connolly, and Rep. Porter previously called on DOD to expand the quantity and quality of information it makes available to the public in order to build on Secretary of Defense Austin’s commitment that, under his leadership, DOD would “be forthcoming and transparent.”
“Restricting critical information about military weapon systems from public release risks undermining that commitment and could diminish the public’s trust that the government is investing in military weapon systems that are safe and effective,” the Members wrote.
The Members requested that DOD review the information regarding military weapon systems that is marked CUI and publicly release the greatest amount of information possible, consistent with the continued protection of sensitive information. They also asked DOD to provide the Committee with justifications for why information on military weapon systems is marked CUI.
Click here to read the letter.