US DoD wants to classify future defence spending plans

Harry Lye 31 March 2020 (Last Updated March 31st, 2020 12:14)

The US Department of Defence (DoD) has requested that Future Year Defence Programme (FYDP) plans are classified. The DoD has been publishing the information openly since 1998.

US DoD wants to classify future defence spending plans
Image: DoD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force.

The US Department of Defence (DoD) has requested that Future Year Defence Programme (FYDP) plans are classified. The DoD has been publishing the information openly since 1998.

According to a proposal unearthed by the Federation of American Scientists, the DoD has asked that the starting 2021 the FYDP plans are no longer released in an unclassified format.

The DoD is requesting an amendment to the law which would see unclassified FDYP plans no longer made available to Congress, the Congressional Budget Office, the Comptroller General of the United States and the Congressional Research Service. The request also notes that the DoD is seeking to ‘remove the requirement to certify the accuracy of the input’ to the FYDP.

Under the DoD’s proposal, a classified version of the FYDP plans would be delivered to Congress and other government agencies.

The FYDP is used to support the DoD’s internal decision making and hold the department to account with the document detailing a five- to seven-year breakdown of spending.

Justifying its request, the DoD said that continuing to publish the information could ‘inadvertently’ reveal sensitive information.

In its request, the DoD wrote: “With the ready availability of data mining tools and techniques, and the large volume of data on the department’s operations and resources already available in the public domain, additional unclassified FYDP data, if it were released, potentially allows adversaries to derive sensitive information by compilation about the department’s weapons development, force structure, and strategic plans.”

The DoD added that unclassified FYDP information could be used by potential adversaries to target espionage efforts.

Another concern raised by the DoD is that the publishing of FYDP data potentially harms its interaction with industry. The DoD added: “Exposing resources allocated to future acquisition plans may encourage bids and other development activities not beneficial to the government.

“The department has long-standing policies that are designed to prevent the release of FYDP information to prevent commercial interests from gaining an unfair advantage in future acquisition actions.”

The DoD note goes on to say: “Unfortunately, the current federal processes for protecting sensitive but unclassified information are much weaker than those for classified data, and so the risk of inadvertent disclosure of all or part of an unclassified FYDP is much higher than the department considers prudent.”