Like many of the inner workings of the United States government, the Department of Defense Facility Clearance (FCL) process can seem complex and overwhelming, but it is required for companies interested in doing business with the U.S. Government, and the contract has a requirement to access classified information, a Facility Clearance will be required to support the contract However, with the right guidance and understanding, the FCL process can be demystified.
An FCL is an administrative determination that a company is eligible for access to classified information. This designation is a clearance for entities or companies, similar to a personnel security clearance for individuals.
The FCL process requires Key Management Personnel (KMP) to get Personnel Clearances (PCL), including the appointed Facility Security Officer, Insider Threat Program Security Officer, and Senior Management Officials. The process can be challenging, but it is important to understand that a facility clearance is not a simple administrative process. It involves building a robust security program and posture to ensure the nation’s competitive edge is preserved.
Obtaining an FCL and staying current
So how can your company obtain an FCL? A contractor or prospective contractor cannot apply for its own FCL. Contractors must be sponsored by a Government Contracting Agency (GCA) or cleared contractor and have a legitimate need to have access to classified materials. Sponsorship can begin as soon as you have been determined as the awardee(s).
To be eligible for an FCL, your company must need access in connection with a legitimate requirement (prime or subcontract). Your company must be organized in the U.S. and have a reputation for integrity and lawful business dealings. It is essential to note that a facility clearance is not issued to a location of a company but is granted to the company or business entity itself.
The cost of obtaining an FCL is minimal as the government funds the processing of PCLs and FCLs for access to classified information. The only cost to you to go through the process is to ensure the business is in compliance with the 32 CFR Part 117 (NISPOM Rule). The Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA) Facility Clearance Branch (FCB) reviews and validates FCL requests and manages the FCL process from beginning to end.
It is important to note that an FCL remains active until the company no longer has a need to access classified information. To ensure that your company is compliant with the process, the DCSA offers free resources and training on their website.
These resources include the FCL Process Orientation Video, Facility Clearance Checklist, and FCL Orientation Handbook.
In conclusion, the FCL process is complex but not impossible. It requires a clear understanding of the requirements, a solid security posture, and guidance from the right sources. With the right guidance and understanding, your company can obtain an FCL and start doing business with the U.S. Government.
Diane Griffin is founder and President of Security First & Associates, a professional security consulting company based in Columbia specializing in the National Industrial Security Program (NISP) and Intelligence Community (IC) requirements. Visit https://securityfirstassociates.com/ for more information.