No Access

By Christopher J. Castelli / November 6, 2013 at 10:14 PM

The Defense Department's highly classified special access programs (SAPs) will regularly remain under wraps for at least four decades, according to new Pentagon guidance spotlighted by Secrecy News.

"SAP documents, dated prior to January 1, 1982, shall be declassified on December 31, 2021," states the Oct. 10 guidance. "SAP documents dated after January 1, 1982, shall be declassified on December 31 of the 40th year after the date of the document, unless it is reviewed and submitted for another extension."

DOD's use of special access controls has repeatedly led to multibillion-dollar program failures, including the A-12 aircraft debacle, Secrecy News reported.

Also, the Pentagon has been known to put programs in the black to dodge oversight rules.

As Navy under secretary in the Carter administration, James Woolsey, the former director of the CIA, often sought secret cover for acquisition programs for the sole purpose of avoiding the program objective memorandum budget process.

"I have a confession to make. When I was under secretary of the Navy I used to put programs into the black in order to be able to avoid the requirements of the POM process," Woolsey said while participating in a panel discussion at an aerospace conference in Arlington, VA, in May 1999. Putting a program in the black enabled faster, more efficient development -- and less oversight, he noted.