Is there an over-classification problem?

Between 1980 and 2011 1.49 Billion pages were declassified (Automatic, Systematic and Discretionary, Declassification Review).  However, the number of pages of classified government documents that were declassified, as well as the number reviewed for declassification declined from last year.  In fact, 2011 saw the lowest number of declassified documents since the 1980-1994 period, with only 26.7 million pages declassified.

According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) report indicates that President Obama’s 2009 goal of reviewing 400 million pages of classified records of historical importance by December 2013 “is not likely to be met.”

FAS points out:

“The ISOO report does make the important observation that, as in past years, the majority of agency classification determinations that were appealed by requesters to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel were overturned by the Panel in whole or in part, resulting in the declassification and release of records that agencies had wanted to withhold as classified.

Because this pattern has persisted for 15 years (since the Panel was established), it represents empirical proof that overclassification has been and still remains pervasive, even by internal executive branch standards.”

Is this a problem of over-classification or a natural result of a needed security?  Has over-classification become routine?