Blueprints for disaster: balancing secrecy and transparency of government continuity plans
Vollbrecht, Stephen Scott
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On one hand, it is readily assumed that the government must keep some information secret for the security of the state and the safety of people; on the other, as the ultimate sovereign, the people require access to information through government transparency. One area where this tension between secrecy and transparency is highly pertinent is continuity of operations plans. Continuity plans contain highly sensitive information that, if not protected from disclosure under open records laws, may reveal vulnerabilities for potential exploitation by malicious actors. How can confidentiality and disclosure needs for government information in continuity of operations plans be reconciled? Using a hybrid method that includes historical, legal, political, and disciplinary research and contextual analysis, this thesis investigates the tension between the meaning and goals of secrecy and transparency in the political context, analyzes exposures in the current legal and practical frameworks, and considers approaches for balancing the legitimate interests of secrecy and transparency in achieving security and accountability. Based on analysis and application, this thesis proposes a practical solution in the form of a uniform protective security approach for confidentiality and disclosure through a modified understanding of risk and a specific responsive risk-balancing model.
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