U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres to Introduce "DOCS Act" to Strengthen Protection of Classified Documents

Government and Politics

January 27, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) today announced he is filing new legislation entitled the “Defending Our Classified Secrets Act” – or “DOCS Act” – to strengthen federal policies and procedures surrounding the possession and protection classified documents.

“One thing has become painfully clear over the last several months,” said Rep. Torres. “There is a culture of carelessness and disregard at the highest levels of our government that’s resulted in highly sensitive and classified information ending up where it clearly doesn’t belong. Though recent incidents of this might vary in scope and intent, and there’s still much to learn from pending law enforcement investigations, the mishandling of classified documents must always be taken seriously because it represents a threat to our national security regardless of the circumstances. We must come together to work in a bipartisan fashion to implement stronger, more secure safeguards to ensure our country’s most classified secrets are handled appropriately and don’t end up in the wrong hands.”

The “DOCS Act” would require each person leaving federal elected office to self-certify within 30 days of the end of their term(s) of service, under the penalty of perjury, that they are no longer in possession of any classified information or documents. Certifications would be required to be filed with and made public by the National Archives and Records Administration, and there would be a potential civil penalty of up to $100,000 for failing to self-certify or filing a false certification.

Additionally, the “DOCS Act” would require the Director of National Intelligence to establish a mandatory procedure under which any classified materials removed from a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, is documented and tracked (including the physical location of the material) for a period beginning at the time of removal and ending at a time the Director determines is appropriate.

The “DOCS Act” would apply to individuals holding and leaving elected federal positions on or after it is signed into law.