November 17, 2023
Blog

How to obtain a Facility Clearance (FCL)

Obtaining a Facility Clearance (FCL) for your small business may seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re new to the Government Contracting world. However, with adequate preparation, guidance, and Nooks Managed Security Services (MSS) support, the path to securing your FCL can be organized and simplified. Below, we’ll navigate the basic steps that will lead you to a cleared facility for your organization.

Deconstructing the FCL Journey

Step 0: FCL Sponsorship

Prior to beginning the process, a federal agency or cleared contractor must sponsor the FCL when there is a legitimate need for your company – for example after you were awarded a contract that deals with classified information. The good news is that you usually don’t need a clearance to bid on or secure a government classified contract but if you need help finding a sponsor, reach out to us and we can advise!

Step 1: DD Form 254

The first step of your company’s journey to access classified information is to obtain a Department of Defense Form 254 (DD 254). Generally provided by the government or the primary government contractor, it establishes your company’s need to access classified information and outlines security regulations to adhere to.

Step 2: Appoint an FSO

Next is to designate a Facility Security Officer (FSO) who will play a pivotal role in not only navigating the FCL process but also in upholding the facility clearance throughout the contract’s duration. The FSO is responsible for ensuring your company complies with the classified information federal requirements outlined in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) and other documents referenced in your DD 254. While this can be done inhouse, it can be outsourced to services such as Nooks’ facility security officer services and we can act as the assisting FSO for your company. Providing both experience and peace of mind to your company.

Step 3: Connect with DCSA

Once you’ve obtained your DD 254 and appointed an FSO, your next move should involve reaching out to your local Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA) field activity through their website. This is a crucial relationship to develop and maintain.

Step 4: Documentation Assembly and Submission for Facility Security Clearance

Next, you’ll need to gather information about your company and key employees. The required documentation includes:

  • Company Documentation: Depending on your company’s legal structure (e.g., corporation, LLC, partnership).
  • Personnel Documentation: This requires a list of key management personnel, along with their social security numbers and citizenship verification.
  • Security Documentation: A DD Form 441 outlines the security responsibilities of both your company and the U.S. government.
  • Foreign Ownership Documentation: The SF 328 form pertains to a company’s foreign interests and identifies the presence of Foreign Ownership, Control, or Influence (FOCI).

Once you or the Nooks Facility Security Services team gathers the requisite documents they must be submitted through the National Industrial Security System (NISS) for package review. Upon approval, you will implement security measures per your DD 254.

Step 5: Facility Clearance Implementation for FSO Security Clearance

If you’ll only access classified information at secure facilities such as Nooks’ spaces, your security requirements may be minimal. However, if you’ll handle classified information generation, reception, and storage, you’ll need to establish a secure room, such as an open storage area or a SCIF, based on specific security requirements.

Summary

To access and execute classified contracts, your company starts by obtaining sponsorship from a federal agency or cleared contractor, often after securing a relevant government contract. You’ll then appoint a Facility Security Officer (FSO) and connect with the local Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA) field office. After assembling required documentation it must be submitted through the National Industrial Security System (NISS).

While the FCL Orientation Handbook suggests a 45-day clearance process, in practice, it may take up to six months or even a year, depending on your facility’s complexity.

So, as you embark on the journey to attain your FCL, rest assured that it’s a manageable process when approached with the right steps, documentation, and support. Remember, your company’s clearance is a testament to its value in national security, and we here at Nooks are here to assist you in achieving it as swiftly as possible.

If you’re interested in obtaining an FCL or to learn more about the process, contact us today and our security experts will guide you through the process.

 

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