Saturday, December 21, 2019

Facility and Personnel Security Clearances

Facility Security Clearances

A defense contractor is a business entity that has registered to contract with the US Government and has registered with the Central Contractor Registration. A Cleared Defense Contractor (CDC) is the designation of a U.S. Government Contractor facility that has been granted a Facility Clearance, authorizing them to perform on classified contracts. An uncleared defense contractor may bid on a classified contract without possessing an FCL. However, they must be cleared before getting access to the classified contract.

Many defense contractors may find it difficult to find and compete for classified contracts. They may have a unique skill that is hard to identify contracts requiring those skills. But this should not be a showstopper as uncleared defense contractor may partner with or team with an existing CDC for sponsorship. For example, suppose a major defense contractor is performing on a classified contract for engineering support. Their core competencies provide much needed results, but they are in need of a cleared widget maker to make a peripheral piece of hardware. The prime defense contractor is familiar with the excellent work performed by a small uncleared defense contractor. The company does not have a clearance, but the cleared contractor can award a subcontract and sponsor the winning company for a security clearance.

Personnel Security Clearances

Over the years I've been asked the same question: "Can you help me get a security clearance? My answer is both yes and know. If the individual either owns a business and is competing for a classified contract or has a contractual need for a Facility Clearance, then they are eligible to pursue a security clearance.  Likewise, if they work for a cleared defense contractor and require a security clearance to perform on classified work, then the answer is yes as well.

The security clearance process begins with awarding the security clearance first to the enterprise and then to the employee. All classified information is provided to newly established Cleared Defense Contractor (CDC) as a result of a classified contract. The cleared employees are granted access based on the contract, security clearance level, and need to know. 
The contractor and government have joint responsibilities with the PCL process as they do with the FCL process. When the FCL investigation is initiated, the employees should complete a Questionnaire for National Security Positions, also known as Standard Form (SF 86). Part of the process includes ensuring that the applicants are US Citizens. They should submit the application to the FSO who then submits applications. An investigation is conducted and the central adjudication facility (CAF) makes a determination. 

With the FCL established, you are ready to proceed with the process. The PCL process begins with the applicant completing the Questionnaire for National Security Positions or also known as the SF 86. The SF 86 is primarily the part of the process that the applicant can affect the speed of the approval. A properly filled out application form is the key. Incomplete or inaccurate information is the number one cause of clearance delays. Names, addresses, telephone numbers, and dates of birth for relatives should be gathered as background research. Fortunately, the SF 86 form is online and requires only filling out once and updating when reinvestigations are required. When a clearance is up for renewal, the applicant can log in their SF 86 and make updates.

Not everyone investigated is guaranteed a clearance. In some instances, a clearance can be denied, revoked or suspended. The employee's background is investigated thoroughly for the initial clearance and again every five to fifteen years while maintaining a clearance. In the event that a security clearance is denied, suspended or revoked, the CSO will also notify the FSO. The FSO will then deny access to classified material to that employee.

Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is the owner of Red Bike Publishing Red Bike Publishing . He regularly consults, presents security training, and recommends export compliance and intellectual property protection countermeasures. He is an accomplished writer of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals. 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".

Steps to Getting the Facility and Personnel Security Clearance are available in our upcoming book tentatively titled Insider's Guide to Security Clearances. You can pre-order now.

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