Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Safeguarding 101

Since the Federal Government allows contractors to use classified information on the performance of contracts, the Department of Defense regulates a classified contractor’s ability to work with classified material. The Federal Government has published a policy appropriately titled: The National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM). This page turner is sponsored by the Presidential Executive Order (E0)12829 for the protection of information classified under E.O. 12958. Having poured over both publications and the updates, I can confidently assure you that they take this business very seriously.

When specific work calls out performance on classified efforts, provisions of the applicable DD Form 254 and Security Classification Guide (SCG) shall govern. Both the DD 254 and SCG spell out what specific work a contractor can and cannot perform and what exactly is classified. Both of these documents not only should be available prior to execution but read and understood by all performing employees.

Classified information is marked with CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET designations and must be afforded protection at the appropriate level. For example, unauthorized disclosure of CONFIDENTIAL information could reasonably be expected cause damage; SECRET could reasonably be expected to cause serious damage; and TOP SECRET could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to national security. Prior to discussing or providing classified data, employees are required to ascertain the receiving party’s clearance level and need-to-know. They will advise the receiving party of the classification level of information provided.

Facility security officers and industrial security professionals should develop measures to safeguard classified information at the highest level indicated. Employees should be trained to pay close attention to the classification and the identified protective measures. As part of the awareness, DoD contractor employees should notify security of any meetings involving performing on classified contracts. The primary objective is to work with the customer to identify specified needs according to the contract. If working on a classified effort, the customer will provide the above mentioned DDForm254 and an SCG specific to the contract or delivery order. Both publications identify the classified work to be performed and describe the classification level of materials, documents, tasks, and details as required. The FSO will also work out details concerning the proper storage, handling and maintaining of classified material, documents and items.

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