I recently went through an annual audit with the Defense Security Services while working on my full time job as an FSO for a Defense Contractor. I have always held dear the responsibility of implementing a security program designed to protect classified material. In that role, I try to create a positive environment while remaining vigilant of suspicious activities and possible compromise.
During the course of the inspection, my attention was directed to our company's lack of warning sign. This sign was to be posted reminding employees and visitors that their personal effects are subject to search. I agreed that the NISPOM requires such a posting, but I did not understand how a sign would be helpful. We re-opened the NISPOM to try to better understand the intent.
The sign is part of the program to prevent unauthorized introduction or removal of classified material from a contractor facility. I had only understood half of the intent, to prevent unauthorized removal. With the full understanding, I now realize that a good security program ensures classified items are brought through the right channels and according to a contract.
Industrial security professionals working in document control, retention or disposition have a critical responsibility of caring for classified material from beginning to end. Classified material arriving to a contractor is received properly, brought into accountability and finally given a proper disposition.
This classified material is provided by the prime contractor or the Government customer as related to the work identified in the Contract Security Classification Specification. The contractor is required to keep accountability of all classified material and retrieve it within a reasonable amount of time. This requires an excellent accountability and cataloging system with the capability of locating, retrieving, lending and returning the classified material within the safeguarding area.
Classified material has to not only be removed from a facility in the correct manner, but has to be introduced through approved channels. Creating a good program to receive classified information is a vital part of the accountability process.
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