Thursday, April 5, 2012

Some Popular Security Clearance Questions

As a security manager in a National Industrial Security Program organization, you’ll get a lot of interesting questions. You should be prepared to answer them with confidence and ease. Many you’ll have to look up because they will probably come from outer field. However, there are some very popular questions asked many times over. Here are some of those questions:

Where does classified information come from?
The US Government created a system to classified and protect sensitive information

In the National Industrial Security Program, classified information is marked CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET. TOP SECRET has more restrictions than SECRET and SECRET has more than CONFIDENTIAL.

So, who determines the classification levels?
Executive order 12958, As Amended provides instruction for appointment of trained government Original Classification Authorities (OCA). The OCAs evaluate programs and associated information, equipment, services and etc to determine whether or not they are classified and at what level.

Can Anything Be Classified For Any Reason?
There are restrictions in determining classification levels. Contrary to popular spy novels and movies, a classification cannot be assigned to hide legal violations, inefficiencies or mistakes. Nor can the OCAs assign a classification just to prevent embarrassment, prevent or restrict competition or delay the release of information that hasn’t previously required such a level of protection.

How Does the OCA Decide what is Classified?
To determine whether or not information is classified, the OCA goes through a six step process:
1.      Determine if the information is official government information-The US Government must own, have an interest or control the information.
2.      Determine if the information is eligible to be classified-OCAs base this on guidance provided in EO 12958, As Amended describing the four specific criteria.
3.      Determine if there is potential for damage to national security if unauthorized release occurs-If potential damage to national security cannot be determined, it shouldn’t be classified. If potential damage does exists, the OCA should describe the damage.
4.      Determine Classification Level-The OCA assigns the classification level as CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET or TOP SECRET and describes the  level of damage to national security.
5.      Make a Decision About the Duration-Once the OCA assigns a classification level they should assigning a limit, duration or time period of the classification. This ensures that information is only classified as necessary and for only as long as needed.
6.      Communicate the decision-The OCA notifies the users of the classification levels and duration through the Security Classification Guide. Also, classified items are marked conspicuously with the classification level.

An awarded security clearance and access to classified information are granted after a properly executed investigation and determination process. Similarly, the classified information you protect also goes through a determination process. Understanding the how and why of classification determination can help you better protect it.

Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is the owner of Red Bike Publishing Red Bike Publishing . Jeff is an accomplished writer of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals. He also owns Red bike Publishing. Published books include: "Get Rich in a Niche-Insider's Guide to Self Publishing in a Specialized Industry" and "Commitment-A Novel". Jeff is an expert in security and has written many security books including: "Insider's Guide to Security Clearances" and "DoD Security Clearances and Contracts Guidebook", "ISP Certification-The Industrial Security Professional Exam Manual", and NISPOM/FSO Training" See Red Bike Publishing for print copies of: Army Leadership, The Ranger Handbook, The Army Physical Readiness Manual, Drill and Ceremonies, The ITAR,and The NISPOM

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