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Understanding the Responsibilities of Derivative Classifiers



Derivative classifiers are individuals who have been granted the authority to make classification decisions based on existing classified information. These individuals play a critical role in protecting national security information by ensuring that it is properly classified and safeguarded. In this article, we will explore the responsibilities of derivative classifiers and what they are not responsible for.

Responsibilities of Derivative Classifiers

Derivative classifiers have several key responsibilities, including:

  1. Properly classifying information: Derivative classifiers are responsible for reviewing existing classified information and making decisions about how it should be classified. This includes determining the appropriate classification level (i.e. confidential, secret, or top secret) and any additional markings that may be necessary.
  2. Marking and handling classified information: Derivative classifiers are responsible for ensuring that classified information is properly marked and handled in accordance with government regulations. This includes labeling documents and electronic files with the appropriate classification level and handling classified information in a secure manner.
  3. Conducting security reviews: Derivative classifiers are responsible for conducting security reviews of information that is being considered for release or dissemination. This includes determining if any additional protections are necessary to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information.

What Derivative Classifiers Are Not Responsible For

While derivative classifiers play a critical role in protecting classified information, there are certain responsibilities that they are not responsible for. These include:

  1. Original classification: Derivative classifiers are not authorized to make original classification decisions. This responsibility falls on original classifiers, who are individuals with the authority to create new classified information.
  2. Declassification: Derivative classifiers are not authorized to declassify information. This responsibility falls on authorized officials who are responsible for reviewing and determining whether information can be declassified.
  3. Decisions on need-to-know: While derivative classifiers can determine the appropriate classification level for information, they are not authorized to make decisions on who should have access to that information. This responsibility falls on authorized holders, who are individuals with a valid need-to-know.


In conclusion, derivative classifiers have important responsibilities in protecting classified information. They are responsible for properly classifying information, marking and handling classified information, and conducting security reviews. However, they are not responsible for original classification, declassification, or decisions on need-to-know. By understanding the responsibilities of derivative classifiers, we can ensure that classified information is properly protected and safeguarded.

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