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Mandatory Declassification Review

Executive Order 13526, Classified National Security Information, provides that any individual may request a review of classified information and material in possession of the Federal Maritime Commission for declassification. All information classified under Executive Order 13526, or a predecessor Order, shall be subject to a review for declassification by the Commission if:

  1. The request describes the documents or material containing the information with sufficient specificity to enable the Commission to locate it with a reasonable amount of effort. Requests with insufficient description of the material will be returned to the requester for further information.
  2. The information requested is not the subject of pending litigation.
  3. The information requested has not been reviewed for declassification in the previous two years. If so, the FMC shall inform the requester of this fact and provide the requester with appeal rights in accordance with 32 CFR 2001.33(a)(2)(iii).

When a request has been submitted both under the Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the FMC shall require the requester to select one process or the other. If the requester fails to make a selection, the request will be treated as a FOIA request unless the requested materials are subject only to MDR.

MDR requests must be directed in writing to the Office of the Managing Director, Attn: Senior Agency Official, Federal Maritime Commission, Washington, D.C. 20573. The Senior Agency Official will acknowledge receipt of the request within 15 days of the date of receipt of such request.

To file an MDR request electronically, e-mail OMD@fmc.gov. Please put the words “Mandatory Declassification Review” in the subject line, and then reasonably describe the documents or material containing the information with sufficient specificity to enable the FMC to locate it with a reasonable amount of effort. Please also include contact information so the Senior Agency Official can acknowledge receipt of the request within 15 days of the date of receipt of such request.

If the request requires the provision of services by the Commission, fair and equitable fees may be charged pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 9701.

If the document was derivatively classified by the Commission or originally classified by another agency, the request, the document, and a recommendation for action shall be forwarded to the agency with the original classification authority. The FMC may, after consultation with the originating agency, inform the requester of the referral.

If a document is declassified in its entirety, it may be released to the requester, unless withholding is otherwise warranted under applicable law. If a document or any part of it is not declassified, the Senior Agency Official shall furnish the declassified portions to the requester unless withholding is otherwise warranted under applicable law, along with a brief statement concerning the reasons for the denial of the remainder, and the right to appeal that decision to the Commission appellate authority within 60 days.

If a declassification determination cannot be made within 45 days from the date of the request, the requester shall be advised that additional time is needed to process the request. Final determination shall be made within one year from the date of receipt of the request. The Commission will inform the requester in writing of the final determination and of the reasons for any denials. The Commission shall inform the requester in writing of his/her final appeal rights to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel.

If an MDR request is denied, the requester may submit an appeal to the Chairman of the FMC, in writing, within 60 days after receipt of denial, through the Secretary, Federal Maritime Commission, Washington, D.C. 20573. The appeal should:

  1. Identify the document in the same manner in which it was identified in the original request;
  2. Indicate the dates of the request and denial, and the expressed basis for the denial; and
  3. State briefly why the document should be declassified.

The Chairman shall rule on the appeal within 60 working days of receiving it. If additional time is required to make a determination, the Chairman shall notify the requester of the additional time needed and provide the requester with the reason for the extension. The Chairman shall notify the requester in writing of the final determination and the reasons for any denial.

The requester may appeal a final determination of the Chairman within 60 days of such issuance to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel. The appeal should be addressed to: Executive Secretary, Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, Attn: Classification Challenge Appeals, c/o Information Security Oversight Office, National Archives and Records Administration, 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Room 5W, Washington, D.C. 20408.

The FMC’s Information Security Program can be found at 46 CFR Part 503. If you have any questions regarding this program, please contact the Senior Agency Official at (202) 523-5800.