I’ve recently fielded questions to some cleared employees. The intent was to generate discussion and get an assessment of how well they understood the National Industrial Security Program (NISPOM). I’ve received a variety of answers. The responses were intelligent, well thought out, but inaccurate. They demonstrated a lack of understanding based on popular culture and word of mouth.
Keep in mind that out of all possible respondents less than a handful replied to each question. Additionally, the survey was in no way scientific. It was just a simple fielding of questions and not intended to be a representation of the industry in general. However, they do provide a sound training solution. How can one use such data to train the force? Well, thanks for asking.
Readers of this newsletter can use the same questions while conducting walk around security or otherwise conducting a security survey. Field these questions to your teams. If they respond correctly give loud and public praise. If they answer incorrectly you have just created a training opportunity. Proceed with diplomacy. Use the data you collect as a foundation to design future training. These responses go a long way in identifying weaknesses in the overall understanding of the National Industrial Security Program. These weaknesses could prove a vulnerability to your security program if not addressed properly.
Another application is to use the answers I provide here to bring about discussion or add to your security education agenda. Again, no scientific study here. However, certain broad assumptions can be made about general knowledge of the National Industrial Security Program.
Now, the questions and answers:
1. Will your security clearances or the way we protect classified material be impacted by a new President?
a. "The President can de-classify any classified information."
b. "There should be some sort of "transition" in place for business that overlaps 4-year Admin tenures."
c. "I don't foresee any significant changes."
The reality: In recent history two sequential presidents have provided separate executive orders directing how to protect classified information. Presidents have issued policies directing what qualifies to receive a CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET or TOP SECRET classification.
Contractors and government agencies protect classified information based on the guidance from the executive orders. When changes occur, they affect storage capacity, employee manpower and resources toward re-marking or improving security. These resources are funded through overhead and impact profits. Organizations can project requirements and put a proactive plan in place to make necessary transitions easier.
2. Is a defense contractor allowed to advertise their facility security clearance level or post about it on social media?
"It depends on what level you're advertising. You should be able to advertise clearance levels."
According to the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM , the contractor cannot use their security clearance level to advertise for business.
NISPOM 2. General. An FCL is an administrative determination that a company is eligible for access to classified information or award of a classified contract.
A contractor shall not use its FCL for advertising or promotional purposes
As the lead security education provider, the Facility Security Officer has to break through perceptions. Those cleared employees should grasp a good understanding of their responsibilities to protect classified information. The FSO’s can ask simple questions to gage the effectiveness of the training and discover areas in which to conduct training.
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