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The law recognizes classified and unclassified documents, but since Sept. 11 the CUI designation has popped up governmentwide. Agencies have their own internal designations, and supporters of the legislation said more than 110 different CUI designations are used to keep documents from being shared. A 2006 Government Accountability Office report found one agency had 16 different CUI designations alone.

President Bush, based on recommendations from his new Director of National Intelligence office, issued a memo last month recognizing the explosion of CUI designations and calling for streamlining the number of exceptions.

The DNI office had no comment on the Harman proposals.

Mrs. Harman said she hopes the committee vote will boost the bills’ chances for House floor action and help attract a Senate sponsor.

The measures would start a new way of doing business for the government, said Timothy D. Sparapani, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which supports the bills.

“We will see a new openness and transparency in post-9/11 government, and information which needs to get into the right officials’ hands will get to their hands unimpeded,” he said. “Democrats in Congress, and to a lesser extent the Bush administration, are desperate to get information-sharing up and running.”