United States Facility Clearance

It is important to understand many of the terms as well as the process for the Facility Security Clearance (FCL). Obtaining and maintaining the FCL requires a commitment of personnel resources to administer the program and a commitment to comply with the requirements. All requirements for the FCL are set forth in the National Industrial Security Program (NISP) and the specifics are spelled out in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM).  

A contractor, or prospective contractor, cannot apply for its own FCL. The requiring activity of the United States Government, or cleared contractor in the case of subcontracting, may request the FCL when a definite, classified need has been established.  

The term facility is used within the NISP as a common designation for an operating entity consisting of a plant, laboratory, office, college, university, or commercial structure with associated warehouse, storage areas, utilities and components, which are related by function or location. It does not refer to Government installations.  

A FCL is an administrative determination that, from a national security standpoint, a facility is eligible for access to classified information at the same or lower classification category as the clearance being granted. The FCL may be granted at the Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret level. The FCL includes the execution of a Department of Defense Security Agreement (DD Form 441) and the Certificate Pertaining to Foreign Interests (SF 328). Under the terms of the agreement, the United States Government agrees to issue the FCL and inform the contractor as to the security classification of information to which the U.S. contractor will have access. The contractor, in turn, agrees to abide by the security requirements set forth in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, commonly referred to as the NISPOM. The facility must qualify as a bidder to a United States Government procurement activity or to a prime contractor or subcontractor performing on a Government contract. If the bid or potential subcontract involves access to classified information, the procuring activity or cleared prime contractor submits a request to clear the prospective bidder. Personnel from the Facility Clearance Branch at the Defense Security Service (DSS) evaluate the request and assure that the request is valid. Part of this validation includes confirmation that the facility has a reputation for integrity and lawful conduct in its business dealings. Further, the contractor and its key managers must not be in a “barred” status from participating in United States Government contracts. Before the United States Government will grant a facility security clearance to a contractor, it must confirm the contractor is based in the United States or territorial areas and is a legally organized business entity under the laws of its home state. The organization must not be under foreign ownership, control or influence (FOCI) to such a degree that granting a facility clearance would be inconsistent with the interest of national security.  

When the Defense Security Service determines that the request is valid, processing information is relayed to the appropriate DSS Industrial Security Field Office. The facility is then assigned to a DSS Industrial Security Representative (IS Rep). The IS Rep will obtain information concerning the facility, provide the facility with instructions on completing the necessary forms, and provide basic information about the NISP. The IS Rep will also provide guidance to the facility in establishing an industrial security program.

There is no direct charge to the contractor for processing a facility security clearance. However, the contractor is responsible for security costs associated with participation in the NISP (such as classified storage containers, etc.). Accordingly, contractors should determine their security requirements and related costs and consider such costs when submitting a bid. The IS Rep can assist the facility in determining the necessary security requirements.  

The FCL remains in effect as long as the Security Agreement, DD Form 441, is effective. This agreement may be terminated by either party by thirty days notice. Generally, most FCL remain in effect as long as there is a need for the contractor to have access to classified information.

DISCLAIMER: The Appearance of non-government information does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Army
Accessibility/Section 508