Discussions of the cost of government secrecy are usually about secrecy's use in covering up abuse or embarrassing information, or its effect on democracy. But secrecy's has a very real price tag in dollars, too.
The federal government's Information Security Oversight Office, located in the National Archives and Records Administration, has attempted to determine this cost in its 2004 Report on Cost Estimates for Security Classification Activities (ISOO has estimated costs in past years as well). [Hat tip to the invaluable Secrecy News for bringing this to our attention.]
The government spent $7.2 billion protecting secrets in Fiscal Year 2004, an eleven percent increase from FY 2003. The bulk of the expenses were for "Information Security"-- the guarding of information and controlling dissemination--$4.3 billion.
Part of the reason for the soaring dollar cost of classification is the increasing use of classification, as the OpenTheGovernment.org Coalition has shown in its Secrecy Report Card.
By the way, a tiny slice the $7.2 billion is categorized as "Declassification." It stands at $48.3 million--a nearly six million dollar drop from the year before.