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The White House, Executive Order 13556, Controlled Unclassified Information (Nov 4, 2010) (full-text).


This Executive Order establishes a program for managing Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). It established that the Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) Executive Agent designated as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), "shall develop and issue such directives as are necessary” to implement the CUI Program."[1]

It requires a conversation between the Executive Agent (EA), departments or agencies, other stakeholders, and the general public to consolidate and standardize CUI terms and practices.

The Order prescribed a bottom-up approach, in which each department and agency is required to:

  • Identify all Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) markings being employed in their particular department or agency;
  • Identify the authority for those markings, i.e. law, regulation, government-wide policy;
  • Review those markings to identify any areas for consolidation or the elimination of redundancy; and
  • Specifically define all categories, subcategories, and markings that the department or agency would like to continue to employ.

The EA will collect this information and lead an interagency process to establish an Executive branch-wide definition and taxonomy of categories of CUI.

Finally, after consultation with additional stakeholders and the public, this taxonomy and standardized definitions will be published in a public CUI registry to increase transparency and ensure consistent application.


  1. Executive Order 13556, Section 4b.