Facility Clearance Process (FCL)
Plain English Version
The defense contractor is awarded a classified contract from the GCA (Government Contracting Activity.) The GCA is a U.S. Government department or agency. If the defense contractor is already “cleared,” its status will be verified/confirmed through the Central Verification Activity (CVA) through DSS. If the defense contractor is not cleared , it must be “sponsored“ by either the GCA or another prime/sub-contractor through an official Sponsorship Letter. The Facilities Clearance Division (FCD) of DISCO/DSS, now relocated from Columbus, OH to Quantico, VA, receives the Sponsorship Letter.
The FCD will verify and confirm the Sponsorship Letter. The FCD forwards all the requisite paperwork to the appropriate DSS Industrial Security Field Office. The defense contractor’s clearance paperwork is then assigned to an IS Rep. The IS Rep will coordinate with the defense contractor’s Facility Security Officer (FSO) to complete all the required paperwork. This is accomplished through what is called a Survey, conducted by the IS Rep. Basically, the IS Rep calls the FSO. A meeting is arranged. The Survey is conducted. Forms and other papers are executed and signed. Additional paperwork is also completed electronically by the FSO & IS Rep through a DSS internet-based system called e-FCL (Electronic Facility Clearance System.)
The FCD at DISCO receives all of the completed facility clearance paperwork and, if eligible, grants your company its Facility Security Clearance (FCL.) Your company is now cleared at either the Top Secret, Secret or Confidential level. Your company is also categorized as a possessing facility or a non-possessing facility. A possessing facility is merely one that stores and keeps classified material on site. You are now officially approved to bid on, receive and perform on classified contract work from the U.S. Government.
NISPOM (National Industrial Security Program)
Official U.S. Government policy requirements for the protection of classified information in the hands of industry. The “Holy Bible” for Facility Security Officers (FSOs.)
ISOM (Industrial Security Operating Manual)
A telephone book-sized guidance manual for ensuring the protection of classified material in the hands of industry. The “Holy Bible” for DSS Industrial Security Representatives (IS Reps.) Think NISPOM x4! U.S. Government use only.
The 5 Elements of the Facility Clearance Process
- Sponsorship: The very first step to clearing a company is for them to be sponsored for a facility clearance by either a government contracting activity (GCA) or another cleared company.
- Prepare Organizational Documentation/Information: Obtain and have available the following documents/information for your first visit from your Industrial Security Representative from DSS.
- Articles of Incorporation, Stock Records, Minutes of Board Meetings, and Corporate by-laws.
- Federal Tax ID Number.
- Any 10K Reports filed with the Securities Exchange Commission.
- Key Management Personnel List. The senior management official, the prospective Facility Security Officer (FSO), all executive committee members, and all board members including the Chairman should be listed. NISPOM paragraph 2-104 provides some guidance, and additional guidance will be provided by your Industrial Security Representative during the first visit.
- Brief summary of your company's primary business or services provided.
- email, Fax, and complete address information for the last ten years — include the last four number extension on your zip code.
- Proof of US Citizenship for prospective Facility Security Officer (FSO) (see NISPOM para 2-207).
- DD Form 441: This is the Department of Defense Security Agreement. It is an agreement between your organization and the United States Government that details the security responsibilities of both the cleared organization and the United States Government.
- DF Form 328: The Certificate Pertaining to Foreign Interest is used to report your organization's foreign involvement.
- Personnel Security Clearance: In order for your company to be cleared, specified Key Management Personnel (KMP) must be cleared. Other KMP may be excluded, unless they will require access to classified information. Your Defense Security Service Industrial Security Representative will help you identify those that must be cleared and those that may be excluded.