Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Some enterprises may want to get into the business of government contracting, but may not know where to begin. To help with classified contracts and contractor requirements I'll be posting excerpts of my upcoming book due out next summer. This first post from the book addresses the appointment of a Facility Security Officer.
Under the national industrial security program, a contractor is required to appoint an FSO to take on this responsibility of directing a security program to protect our nation's secrets while entrusted to the cleared facility. This FSO has a tremendous scope of responsibility and takes on the role as the provider of security and the link between the government contractor, the cognizant security agency (CSA) and the federal government. Fortunately, they have the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM)to help.
The employer has the choice of hiring a new employee or assigning a current cleared employee as the FSO. The employee must meet two minimum requirements; be a United States citizen and possess a security clearance according to the company’s facility clearance level (FCL). In smaller companies, an assistant, engineer, program manager, human resources specialist or other capable employees assume the additional responsibility. Larger companies may have the luxury of hiring additional personnel for specific and defined security responsibilities.
The FSO should be cleared to the level of the facility clearance. A facility clearance is awarded to businesses that meet strict requirements and have a need to work with classified information. The personnel security clearance is awarded based on the need and the approval of a facility clearance. In either case, both the facility and the FSO have to be U.S. Entities and must have a history of integrity and conduct that prevents or limits exploitation or coercion to release classified material in an unauthorized manner.
However a company decides to appoint an FSO, that person should demonstrate keen leadership and team playing traits that complement the minimum requirements found in the NISPOM. As the director of the security program the main purpose is to prevent the unauthorized disclosure and release of classified information. Any unauthorized release can cause problems such as but not limited to: loss of reputation, loss of contracts, jail time or disciplinary actions against the employee, and loss of clearance for the employee and/or the business. The FSO has a tough task that they can not possibly do alone (for training resources visit our website).
Stay tuned for more posts on the subject of FSO, NISPOM and cleared contractors.