Controlled Unclassified Information

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The Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) Office logo. Use of the CUI logo is controlled by the National Archives's regulations at 36 C.F.R. 1200.7

Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) is a category of unclassified categories issued in a directive on May 9, 2008, by President George W. Bush. CUI replaces categories such as For Official Use Only (FOUO), Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) and Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES) categories.[1] [2]

The Presidential memorandum designated the National Archives as responsible for overseeing and managing the implementation of the CUI framework.[3] This memorandum has since been rescinded by Executive Order 13556 of November 4, 2010, and the guidelines previously outlined within it were expanded upon to improve uniformity across all Federal agencies and to develop a standard policy regarding the controlled unclassification process itself.[4]

In a similar previous[clarification needed] effort, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Reducing Information Control Designations Act, (H.R. 1323), on March 17, 2009. The bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the 111th Congress in the US Senate, but it was never passed by the Senate.

The current doctrine, policy, and processes for Controlled Unclassified Information came out of a study and policy change proposal which originated within the Information Sharing and Collaboration Office of the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Under Secretariat of the Department of Homeland Security in 2004. The term Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) was coined by the authors of the study which reviewed over 140 various forms of unclassified information in use throughout the federal government at the time. Authors of the study recommended a new doctrine and policy framework and recommended that ISOO, within the NARA, be charged with implementing and overseeing the new doctrine and policy. At the time of delivery of the policy framework, NARA voiced objections to undertaking the effort due to a lack of resources. The policy recommendation continued to be worked within DHS and the rest of government as part of the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment, which moved from DHS to the ODNI. While the executive order, rescission of the order, and subsequent policy structure worked their way through the government, the timeline for the study/ analysis, creation of a draft policy and framework, the political processes, and the resulting policy implementation lasted from 2005 through 2017. The persons who led the study were Ms. Grace Mistalli and Mr. Richard Russell.


  1. ^ Casteli, Elise (January 22, 2008). "New policy expected soon for sensitive information". Federal Times. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013.
  2. ^ "Memorandum For The Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies - Designation and Sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)" (Press release). The Office of the White House. May 7, 2008. Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2008.
  3. ^ "Archivist of the United States Establishes 'Controlled Unclassified Information Office'" (Press release). National Archives and Records Administration. May 22, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2008.
  4. ^ "Executive Order 13556 of November 4, 2010; Controlled Unclassified Information". Federal Register. Volume 75, Issue 216 (November 09, 2010). pp. 68675–68677. FR Doc. No. 2010–28360.

The US Department of Defense has been handling "Controlled Unclassified Information" well before the Presidential 2008 memorandum was published and NARA became the Executive Agent in 2010. The original DoD term embraced a similar type of data category. However, the DoD and NARA differed then and now (2019) on specific categories of data defined as "CUI". DoDM 5200.01 Vol 4 defines current DoD CUI policy until it is revised to align with NARA's definition. Note: The Secretary of the Navy published SECNAV 5510.34 in November 1993 entitled Disclosure of Classified Military Information and Controlled Unclassified Information.