Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has rescinded a January 2001 Department of Defense policy calling for destruction of all unclassified computer hard drives leaving Departmental custody. Wolfowitz's new disposal guidance will make more computers available for schools and other worthy organizations.
Based on comments and suggestions from organizations throughout the Department, Wolfowitz has directed the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence) to issue new procedures for disposition of unclassified DoD-owned or controlled computer hard drives. Under this new guidance, the minimum requirement for equipment leaving DoD custody or control is for computer hard drives to be overwritten, not completely destroyed. Degaussing and destruction alternatives are still authorized when there is particular concern about the sensitivity of data used on the machine. The long-standing practice of destroying hard drives on computers with classified information remains in place.
This risk management approach meets the Department's security needs by creating appropriate Department-wide procedures and controls. It also allows DoD to continue to support reuse of excess computers by worthy groups. In fiscal 2000, DoD donated more than 74,000 pieces of computer equipment to school organizations. This equipment had an original acquisition value of $97 million.
The new policy direction, entitled "Disposition of Unclassified DoD Computer Hard Drives," is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/nii/org/sio/ia/diap/documents/ASD_HD_Disposition_memo060401.pdf .[link no longer available]