Frequently Asked Questions for Department of Defense Prepublication Security and Policy Reviews

What is a prepublication security and policy review?

A prepublication security and policy review is the process by which information proposed for public release is reviewed to ensure compliance with established national and DoD policies, and to determine that it contains no classified, controlled unclassified, export-controlled, or operational security related information.  Once the information is cleared by a DoD component or the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review, release to the public is the responsibility of the originating office or individual.

Why are prepublication reviews necessary?

The purpose of the prepublication security and policy review is to ensure information damaging to the national security is not inadvertently disclosed.  Department of Defense employees and military service members have a lifelong responsibility to submit for prepublication review any information intended for public disclosure that is or may be based on protected information gained while associated with the Department.

Note:  Public disclosure means disclosure to one or more persons who do not have the appropriate access authorization, security clearance, and need-to-know to receive protected information.


Who must submit materials intended for public release?

All current, former, and retired DoD employees, contractors, and military service members (whether active or reserve) who have had access to DoD information, facilities, or who signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) must submit DoD information intended for public release to the appropriate office for review and clearance.  “DoD information” includes any work that relates to military matters, national security issues, or subjects of significant concern to the Department of Defense in general, to include  fictional novels, stories and biographical accounts of operational deployments and wartime experiences.  Publications about gardening, cooking, sports, crafts, and the like do not need to undergo prepublication review if there is no association with the author’s current or former affiliation with the Department of Defense.

Reminder:  Protection of DoD information is a lifelong responsibility.  The responsibility does not end with an individual’s association with the Department of Defense.  Unauthorized disclosure of classified information (whether in a printed article, manuscript or book, on a blog, on a public website or provided to the media), even when it appears in the public domain, does not automatically result in the declassification of the information.  The information remains classified and must be protected until the U.S. government official with original classification authority declassifies the information.


What materials must be reviewed as part of the prepublication security and policy review process?

Any DoD-related material that is intended for public release or dissemination must undergo a prepublication security and policy review.  This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Manuscripts, books, theses
  • Conference papers, briefings, brochures
  • Articles, biographies, speeches
  • Research and scientific papers
  • International Traffic in Arms Regulations technical data
  • Congressional hearing statements
  • Reports to Congress, Reprogramming Actions, Selected Acquisition Reports

How long do reviews take?

Review times vary and are dependent on the complexity of the subject matter, the volume of information, and the number of components with equity in the submitted material.  Reviews may require tasking to multiple component equity holders inside and outside the Department of Defense. 



I am a student.  Am I required to submit my academic assignments for review?


Department of Defense employees who are students are not required to submit their academic assignments if the assignment will stay within the academic institution.  If an employee intends to publically release the academic work, they are then obliged to submit it for prepublication review.  See DoD Instruction 5230.09, Section 1.2.f.


I am a foreign national.  Am I required to submit materials for review?


Only foreign nationals with employment affiliations with the Department of Defense are required to submit materials for review.  This applies to foreign nationals who are or were working for a DoD component, except those hired pursuant to a defense contract, consistent with labor agreements, international treaties and agreements, and host-country laws.  Joint military training exercises, multinational conferences and symposiums, and multinational deployments do not constitute affiliation or employment with DoD.


Can I use individuals’ names or other personally identifiable information (PII) in my material?

As an author, you are responsible for the release of any individual’s PII.  DOPSR suggests that you obtain permission from these individuals to use their information but it is not a condition of DOPSR clearance.  You are not required to use pseudonyms but in some instances, especially for those military members attached to sensitive or routinely deployed units, DOPSR may ask you to use pseudonyms or only the individual’s first name or military rank.


How does the prepublication security review process work with the editing process?  Can I have others (publishers and editors) read the material?  An editor may make changes, and I expect that I will want to edit content as well.

DOPSR does not accommodate publishers’ or editors’ timelines.  Therefore, we recommend that you do not sign a contract with a publishing company, or provide copies of the material to a publisher or other individuals until the review is complete.  Normally, DOPSR does not require you to resubmit material once it is cleared unless you make substantive (as opposed to editorial or format) changes that alter or supplement the original meaning of the text.  DOPSR does not need to review formatting, grammatical, or spelling changes made by a publisher or editor.  Additionally, DOPSR is not concerned with changes made to the material that do not concern your DoD employment or military service or that are not related to U.S. government information.


Can I use the DoD Seal or other military insignia in my product?

The DoD seal and seals of the Military Departments are protected by trademark restrictions and can only be used for official purposes.  Other DoD insignia, emblems, ribbons, and medals are protected under trademark licensing laws and require permission prior to use.  Approval of trademarked items is regulated by DoD Instruction 5535.12, "DoD Branding and Trademark Licensing Program Implementation," Section 2.d.  Guidance on obtaining permission to use DoD insignia can be found at: