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By Jessica Whigham

THE Government is streamlining its security classification system that will remove the outdated distinction between ‘national security’ and ‘non-national security’ information.

Acting Assistant Secretary Security Policy and Plans, Pat Burke, says one of the main benefits for Defence will be improved cooperation with other government agencies.

“The new Australian Government Security Classification System (AGSCS) is designed to help implement the Government’s vision for effective information sharing across agencies,” Pat says.

“While all Australian Government agencies are required to commence using the AGSCS by August 1, due to the considerable amount of work required to align Defence’s ICT systems, Defence has been given until August 2013.

“To cater for the different timelines, Defence will use a transitional system which will allow us to continue to use the old markings while being able to receive and protect information from other agencies as they start to use the new markings.”

Most of the AGSCS will remain the same as the current system. The classifications TOP SECRET, SECRET, CONFIDENTIAL and PROTECTED are mostly unchanged – the only change is to SECRET which will incorporate the previous marking of HIGHLY PROTECTED.

Pat says the more significant changes are at the lower end of the scale. The AGSCS introduces the marking For Official Use Only (FOUO), which will be used for information that may cause limited damage to national security, government agencies, commercial entities or members of the public. In many situations, FOUO can replace RESTRICTED and some uses of the
IN-CONFIDENCE marking.

“The AGSCS also introduces the marking of Sensitive, which will be used for information where disclosure is limited or prohibited by legislation, such as the Privacy Act. Sensitive will be used on information that is currently marked as PERSONNEL-IN-CONFIDENCE or
LEGAL-IN-CONFIDENCE,” Pat explains.

“During the transition period any information you receive from other agencies marked FOUO or Sensitive will not need to be reclassified, but you will need to protect it as if it is RESTRICTED or IN-CONFIDENCE respectively.

“Keep an eye on our Transition Management Portal where we will update our guidance on how to protect information during the transition.”

The portal is at http://intranet.defence.gov.au/dsa/dsm.index.html.

The relationship between the current system, transition system and Australian Government Security Classification System.