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Air Force Declassification Office Knowledge Capture and Process Optimization



OBJECTIVE: The Air Force Declassification Office (AFDO) seeks to document and analyze business processes for classified document review and define industry best practices and new technologies to increase efficiencies and promote cost savings. This project would assist AFDO in order to adhere to the presidential mandate Executive Order 13526, “Classified National Security Information,” Promotion of New Technologies to Support Declassification that was issued on 29 December 2009. It outlines how classified information should be handled and established the principle that no records may remain classified indefinitely. It also provides enforceable deadlines for declassifying documents, generally between 10 to 25 years from the time of classification. 

DESCRIPTION: Currently, AFDO has 12000+ Boxes of physical records to review, ahead of a large number of incoming digitally born records. In order to adhere to the Executive Order 13526, a process must be in place to speed up the rate of review using a machine-assisted tool. This will not be possible with physical records, as only digital records can be ingested into a review tool. Physical records must be scanned, digitized and processed using an OCR tool. In addition, digitizing records will remove the responsibility and cost of storing physical records at the Washington National Records Center (WNRC) in Suitland and the logistics of transferring records from WNRC to AFDO, and then from AFDO to NARA. AFDO is saddled with extensive logistics work and the process is very labor intensive. AFDO Reviewers currently reserve vehicles, coordinate with Suitland and NARA, and physically move the boxes onto the trucks. This costs AFDO $101,003 per year and takes reviewers away from their core activities, preventing 207,301 pages from being reviewed per year. In addition, the process that AFDO reviewers use in reviewing these documents is human-centered 

PHASE I: Phase I of this project will: (1) conduct user analysis that leverages Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) interview and observation methods to capture the AFDO process to include knowledge elicitation, process analysis, and process representation; (2) investigate potential digitization tools, scanning, and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) applications, and (3) process automation tools to support intelligent decision support in the AFDO process. 

PHASE II: Phase II of the project will design and develop a system including human-machine teaming to optimize the AFDO mission process. This will include: (1) exploring the proof of concepts developed in Phase I, (2) building/integrating protoypes for demonstration, and (3) detailing a production level system for implementation into the AFDO. 

PHASE III: AF/A6 has planned funding (Phase III) for the effort assuming that any process with digitization/automation tools selected will be approved for Certification and Accreditation and that NARA will accept digital files in place of originals. Enough of the physical documents will result in OCR accuracy suitable for a review tool, which will gain AFDO time and cost efficiencies. There will be an insignificant volume of documents that cannot be batch scanned or will result in poor OCR quality. These documents will still require manual review. 


1: Executive Order 13526 - Classified National Security Information

2:  National Archives and Records Administration 2004 guidelines

3:  3. US Environmental Protection Agency Information Standards - CIO2155-S-01.0

4:  AFDO Governing Directives and Standards


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