DNI Affirms Commitment to Transparency

Revised Intelligence Community Directive Focuses on Greater IC Transparency

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats recently signed a revised version of an Intelligence Community policy aimed at protecting civil liberties and privacy of U.S. citizens as well as increasing IC transparency with the public. It supersedes the previous policy, which was issued in August 2012.

Intelligence Community Directive 107 “Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency,” was revised primarily to include language affirming the DNI’s commitment to transparency and to formalize existing transparency mechanisms and practices. These include regular meetings of the Civil Liberties and Privacy Council and the Intelligence Transparency Council, two groups established in 2016 to steer IC efforts in those areas. All IC elements are expected to have a representative to each group and to actively participate in privacy- and transparency-related activities within their organizations.  

The updated ICD 107 is the first major policy in this area signed by current DNI Dan Coats and further institutionalizes the Principles of IC Transparency which were put forth under former DNI Clapper in 2015. The goal is not just to respond to information requests from the public but to proactively build on current initiatives to inform the public about IC activities to the extent possible and continually strive for greater transparency. This includes informing the public why certain things can and cannot be released.

In his accompanying letter to Intelligence Community leadership, DNI Coats said, “With this reissuance of ICD 107 we have firmly established transparency as a foundational element of securing public trust in our endeavors, alongside the protection of civil liberties and privacy. This directive institutionalizes a strategic, coordinated, and proactive approach to inform and enhance the public’s understanding of the IC.”

The revised ICD 107 calls for “robust implementation” of the IC’s transparency principles, including aligning policies, resources, process and strategic communications to support transparency while harnessing new technologies to make information accessible to the public in a timely manner. This means going beyond the standard press release, using social media, websites like Intel.gov, and in-person outreach activities—such as participation in industry and academic conferences—to engage with the public as a means to build trust and educate.

“This revision of ICD 107 is another signal that the Intelligence Community, and its leadership, are serious about our commitment to greater openness with the American public. We will continue to make every effort to increase transparency, while also protecting classified and sensitive national security information from unauthorized disclosures.” said Alex Joel, Chief of the Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency group at ODNI, which helped to inform the updated directive.

Mr. Joel and his office are charged with working with IC elements to develop standards that ensure ICD 107 is implemented. (Hear Mr. Joel discuss the importance of IC transparency.)