Understanding the responsibilities of a derivative classifier is crucial for maintaining national security and ensuring sensitive information stays protected. These individuals have a set of required skills and qualifications that enable them to perform their duties effectively. However, there’s often confusion around what exactly is expected of them.

To clarify, derivative classifiers must be familiar with classification guides, understand the principles of classification, and receive proper training in applying those guidelines. They’re also responsible for adhering to policies regarding declassification dates and recognizing potential changes in categorizing information as classified or unclassified. But it’s important to note that not everything associated with handling classified material falls under their purview.

There’s one common misconception I’d like to address: Derivative classifiers are not tasked with creating original classification decisions. This responsibility lies solely with original classification authorities (OCAs), who determine at the outset whether information should be classified based on its sensitivity and potential impact on national security if disclosed improperly. Derivative classifiers work within the framework established by OCAs, making sure that already-classified information retains its status when transferred into new documents or contexts.

Derivative Classifiers Are Required To Have All Of The Following Except

Definition of derivative classifiers

A derivative classifier is an individual responsible for carrying out classification decisions based on guidance or pre-existing classified information. They don’t originate classification decisions from scratch but rather apply markings that echo prior determinations made by original classification authorities. This role is critical in maintaining the integrity of sensitive information, ensuring it remains within appropriate handling parameters.

  • Training: Before one can become a derivative classifier, they must complete mandatory training specific to their role.
  • Guidance Familiarity: They should be well-acquainted with classification guides which provide instructions on what information requires protection.
  • Source Material Understanding: Derivative classifiers use already classified documents as a source for making subsequent classifications.

It’s important to note that while these individuals play a pivotal role in safeguarding data, they’re not tasked with creating new classification guides or making original classification decisions—activities reserved strictly for original classification authorities.

Roles and responsibilities of derivative classifiers

Derivative classifiers hold several key responsibilities:

  1. Applying Markings Correctly: They ensure that any document or piece of information they handle is marked correctly according to the existing guidelines.
  2. Avoiding Over-classification: It’s their duty to prevent unnecessary restrictions on information that could impede access for those who need it.
  3. Proper Handling and Dissemination: When sharing classified materials, they must do so in line with established protocols.

Here are some examples where the role comes into play:

  • When updating a report that contains classified data, derivative classifiers would reference the proper guide to determine how to mark the updated version correctly.
  • In preparing briefing materials derived from multiple sources, each with different levels of classification, it’s their job to decide what overall level of security clearance is needed for someone to view the final document.

Contrary to popular belief, holding a security clearance isn’t necessarily part of being a derivative classifier; rather, it’s essential only if they’ll be dealing with appropriately categorized confidential material. The main objective here isn’t about having clearance but about understanding and applying existing classifications accurately based on provided guidelines.

Requirements for derivative classifiers

Knowledge of classification guidelines and regulations

Understanding the intricacies involved in handling classified information is pivotal. Derivative classifiers need to be well-versed in current classification guidelines and regulations. They must know how to navigate documents like Executive Order 13526 or its predecessors, along with agency-specific manuals that govern the protection of sensitive information. Examples include:

  • Familiarity with the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM)
  • Proficiency in understanding classification levels: Top Secret, Secret, and Confidential
  • Regular updates on changes to classification rules and procedures

This knowledge ensures derivative classifiers can uphold national security by correctly applying classification standards.


Ability to make accurate classification determinations

Making accurate decisions when classifying derived information is non-negotiable for a derivative classifier. This skill requires an analytical mindset and attention to detail. For instance:

  • Evaluating whether the source document is accurately marked
  • Deciding if additional markings are necessary for the new document
  • Understanding when and how to apply declassification instructions

These abilities minimize over-classification or under-classification risks which could have serious consequences.

Understanding of the classification process

A firm grasp of the entire classification lifecycle is essential for anyone entrusted with derivative classifications. This includes but isn’t limited to:

  • Identifying which parts of a text should be classified based on their content
  • Knowing who has authority over different types of classified information
  • Being aware of proper storage, handling, dissemination, and destruction protocols

These competencies ensure that confidential materials remain secure throughout their lifecycle from creation until they’re no longer deemed sensitive.


Jenny has always been interested in food and cooking. She grew up in a family where meals were made from scratch and food was always celebrated. After college, Jenny began working in restaurants and catering. She soon realized that she wanted to help people cook at home more often. In 2016, Jenny started Nourish as a way to share her love of simple and nourishing food. Jenny's recipes are all inspired by her own experiences with food allergies and sensitivities. She knows how hard it can be to find recipes that are both delicious and safe to eat, so she creates recipes that everyone can enjoy. If you're looking for recipes that are easy to make and good for you, then you've come to the right place! Jenny's recipes are all tested and proven to be both delicious and nutritious.