After reengineering its process to quickly and efficiently
chisel away at mountains of classified documents, the Air Force
Declassification Team will receive Vice President Al Gore's
Hammer Award at a Pentagon ceremony Aug. 9, 1996.
The Hammer Award is Vice President Gore's special
recognition to teams that have made significant contributions to
support the president's National Performance Review principles --
putting customers first, cutting red tape, empowering employees
and getting back to basics.
The award honors the team's creativity in improving
declassification policies and decision-making processes, and
doing so in a timely, high-quality and low-cost manner. This
paved the way for the volumes of work that lie ahead.
The declassification team was created in 1989 and was
initially composed of Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard
members assigned to the administrative assistant to the secretary
of the Air Force. Their job was to devise a declassification plan
to release official Air Force documents to Congress and the
public. The original team reinvented declassification decision
making by creating the Air Force's first computer-based
declassification guide. The guide enables trained declassifiers
to quickly review, coordinate and, if appropriate, declassify
information in record time
The team first tackled classified documents from the Vietnam
era. In 1992, came the added challenge of reviewing records of
prisoners of war and those missing in action. Later, the team
reviewed and declassified Gulf War documents.
On April 17, 1995, President Clinton signed Executive Order
12958, which prescribes a uniform system for classifying,
safeguarding and declassifying national defense information.
declassification team has expanded into a task force that
includes representatives from the Air Force offices of public
affairs, history, chief of security police and the Air Force
Historical Research Agency.
During the initial review of about 6 million pages of Air
Force records, the team created a streamlined process to
effectively implement the executive order. Since the order was
signed, the team has amassed a large collection of classification
guides, transformed them into electronic media for on-line use,
and authored an electronic declassification guide that
incorporates Air Force documents dating from 1947 to 1975.
The team has also worked with the Air Force Extension Course
Institute at Gunter Air Force Base, Ala., to design a computer-
based declassification training course open to all military and
federal civilian employees.
Since the Hammer Award is the vice president's answer to
yesterday's $600 hammer, the award consists of a $6 hammer, a
little ribbon and a card from Gore, all in an aluminum frame. The
award recognizes new standards of excellence achieved by teams
helping to reinvent government.
The award will be presented tomorrow, Aug. 9, 1996 at 1:30
p.m. (EDT) in the Pentagon Auditorium, Room 5A1070.
wishing to cover the ceremony should contact Maj. Cecily
Christian, (703) 695-0640.