Saturday, May 6, 2017

Hand Carrying Classified Information-Planning and Execution

This article continues the series covering the Self-Inspection Handbook For NISP Contractors and guidance found in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) Incorporating Change 2

Prior to sending cleared employees to courier or escort classified material, the holder of the classified information should gain authorization. Classfied information should not leave the facilities without the authorization to do so, a complete inventory of the items to be removed, and the intent to protect it from unauthorized disclosure, loss, or theft.  

NISPOM 5-410. Use of Couriers, Hand Carriers, and Escorts. Contractors who designate cleared employees as couriers, hand carriers, and escorts shall ensure:

c. The employee retains classified material in his or her personal possession at all times. Arrangements shall be made in advance of departure for overnight storage at a U.S. Government installation or at a cleared contractor's facility that has appropriate storage capability, if needed.

d. If the classified material is being hand carried to a classified meeting or on a visit, an inventory of the material shall be made prior to departure. A copy of the inventory shall be carried by the employee. On the employee's return to the facility, an inventory shall be made of the material for which the employee was charged.

Is hand carrying of classified material outside the facility properly authorized, inventoried, and safeguarded during transmission?


To help ensure that classified information is protected during shipment, the courier should understand their role and responsibility to protect classified information. The security manager, FSO, holder of classified information, Defense Security Services, and Government Contracting Activity should understand the mission, where the classified information exists, where it will go, the method of transportation, the route, and how it will be protected during transport, and secured once delivered. In this case, the classified information should be properly inventoried, wrapped, and hand carried by a fully briefed cleared employee. All parties should be involved in all phases of transporting classified information to include pre-trip, during transport, and after trip preparations.

Travel planning should include mode of travel, route to take, a travel plan to get there, and all necessary credentials for the cleared employee carrier. The involved parties might form a temporary planning team to discuss travel scenarios to prepare for and execute safe transport and protection of classified material. Prior to departure the planning team should also ensure that the classified package to be carried is inventoried and documented, receipted, provided written authorization is available and picture identification and credentials are on hand. A good practice is to issue a memorandum or other written authorization that identify the cleared employee the approved carrier.  

The credentials should be issued only after the cleared employee has acknowledged their understanding of their role and requirements along the way. Practice runs, hands on training or using experienced employees is a preferred way to prepare. Look for threat points and methods of tailoring the travel to protect items by their format, mode of travel, and location along the route. Such confidence, experience, and education help prevent security violations.

During Transport
Courier should adhere to the planned route and not make unnecessary deviations without coordination and approval. Where overnight or long term stops are required, they should be part of a plan with approved locations to store the classified information. The classified information must remain with the courier and should not be opened by unauthorized persons or contents discussed openly. The classified package should never to be left unattended and the courier should not allow themselves to be distracted from protecting the classified material.

If the trip involves an overnight stay, a stop should be scheduled during preparation and arrangements made for approved storage. Plans should also include what to do in case of emergencies, unintended layovers, vehicle breakdowns, or other unplanned events. This approved storage should be coordinated with the GCA or DSS. The courier should not store classified information in lockers, private homes, automobile trunks, hotel safes or other unauthorized areas.

After Trip
A government customer may require a defense contractor to attend a classified visit or meeting at another defense contractor’s cleared facility. The cleared facilities where the meeting occurs may authorize the courier to report directly to the meeting without additional processing. However, the courier should be prepared to introduce the classified information according to the cleared facility’s policies or per instruction from the government sponsor. Prior arrangements and coordination will prevent any delays or surprises.

The courier should expect the receiver to inventory the classified information, sign required receipts, and assume responsibility of the classified information. Once that is established, the courier’s job is complete and they are relieved of possession and responsibilities of protecting the classified information.

Once the courier returns, they should provide signed receipts and close out the travel action. This closeout might include a report of the trip to include any follow up for suspicious contact, incidents, or threats to the classified information.

Document planning process with planning team
Provide written authorization for hand carrier to transport classified information
Develop tracking system to ensure receipts are returned in a timely manner
Provide proof of hand carrier or escort briefing
Review and compare signatures of couriers who have attended training and briefings

Red Bike Publishing provides downloadable training and briefings that are helpful in managing security programs that protect classified information. You can find training and briefings that meet your need at our website.

This article is based on the book DoD Security Clearance and Contracts Handbook available at


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