What is Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)

Controlled Unclassified Information, or CUI, is an integral yet often misunderstood component of information management across government agencies and contractors. Stemming from EO 13556, CUI standardizes the handling of sensitive data to align confidentiality and ethical data usage among public sector entities. It is any information that requires safeguarding or dissemination controls under federal regulations or government-wide policies. CUI includes anything from medical records to PII, meaning CUI permeability touches vast swaths of public and private organizations. Understanding CUI designations, markings, and security protocols is thus essential for ensuring regulatory compliance and avoiding unintended release of sensitive information.

Understanding the Concept of CUI

CUI is managed by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), as mandated by Executive Order 13556. NARA establishes policies and guidelines for protecting controlled unclassified information, ensuring a consistent approach across all federal agencies. The regulations governing CUI can be found in 32 CFR Part 2002, which outlines the requirements for safeguarding or dissemination controls.

What is the Purpose of ISOO CUI Registry

The ISOO CUI Registry is an online resource that provides a comprehensive list of CUI categories and subcategories. It provides guidance for federal agencies in implementing and managing their CUI programs. The registry is intended to help agencies understand their responsibilities when it comes to protecting CUI and to foster consistency in the handling and safeguarding of sensitive information across the federal government.

Responsibility for Protecting CUI

The responsibility for protecting CUI is shared among multiple parties, including:

  • Federal Agencies
    • Federal agencies are responsible for implementing and enforcing CUI policies. They must create and maintain a CUI program, ensuring that proper controls are in place for safeguarding or dissemination of controlled unclassified information.
  • Contractors and External Organizations
    • Organizations that work with federal agencies and handle CUI must also ensure that they are compliant with the relevant regulations and policies. This includes contractors, subcontractors, and other external entities that have access to CUI.
  • Individual Employees
    • Employees who handle CUI must be aware of their responsibilities when it comes to protecting sensitive information. They must adhere to agency-specific policies and procedures related to the handling, marking, safeguarding, and dissemination of CUI.

CUI Classification

CUI is classified into different categories and subcategories based on the nature of the information and the specific safeguarding or dissemination controls. Examples of CUI categories include:

  • Export Controlled Information
  • Privacy Information
  • Critical Infrastructure Information

The ISOO CUI Registry provides detailed guidance on the classification and handling of various types of Controlled Unclassified Information. This helps to ensure that sensitive information is protected consistently across federal agencies.

Conclusion

Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) is an essential aspect of information security within federal agencies. Understanding the purpose of the ISOO CUI Registry, knowing who is responsible for protecting CUI, and being aware of CUI classification are all important elements of maintaining proper safeguarding or dissemination controls. By adhering to the regulations and government-wide policies outlined in 32 CFR Part 2002 and Executive Order 13556, organizations can effectively protect sensitive information and contribute to national security.

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