Entities (including companies and academic institutions) engaged in providing goods or services to the U.S. government involving access to or creation of classified information may be granted a Facility Clearance (FCL). Mandated by the guidelines set forth in the National Industrial Security Program (NISP), the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) processes, issues, and monitors the continued eligibility of entities for an FCL.
After a determination by DCSA that an entity has a legitimate need for access to classified information in connection with a U.S. Government or foreign government requirement, an entity may be sponsored for an FCL. All FCL sponsorship requests are submitted through the National Industrial Security System (NISS), the DCSA system of record for NISP. Submission of all FCL requests, change of conditions, clearance verifications or self-inspection certifications to NISS here.
Once a facility is cleared, DCSA has oversight authority to evaluate the security operations of the organization. The DCSA Industrial Security Representative (ISR) is the principal interface with cleared industry under the NISP. These individuals, spread across the United States in five geographic regions and 167 field locations, work in a professional partnership with the contractor's facility management staff and facility security officer to ensure the protection of classified information released under contractual obligations or research and development efforts.
To get started with the FCL process, please see the following checklist for cleared contractors, U.S. Government Contracting Activites, and U.S. Prime Contractors. Reviewing this information will help you avoid many of the common errors that delay FCL packages.
Incomplete and inaccurate facility sponsorship packages will be rejected, which will cause delays in obtaining a FLC. For all FCL-related questions, or status updates on your FCL sponsorship submission, contact the DCSA Knowledge Center at 888-282-7682 and select option #3.
Checklist for a Facility Clearance
||The very first step in the FCL process is sponsorship. Contractors cannot sponsor themselves for an FCL. Instead, a contractor must be sponsored for an FCL by either a government contracting activity (GCA) or another cleared company. Sponsorship is initiated in NISS through a system generated fill-in-the-blank FCL sponsorship request. There is also a feature in NISS to upload additional documents as a part of the sponsorship package to include the DD254, Statement of Work/Performance Work Statement, GCA authorization, etc.
|DCSA Begins the Process
||Once the contractor sponsorship has been accepted in NISS, the system will send a Welcome Email initiating the process. Contractors are encouraged to review the FCL Orientation Handbook. The Welcome Email and FCL Orientation Handbook contain detailed information about the process, responsibilities, and critical deadlines. It’s very important that contractors read and follow the instructions contained in the Welcome Email and the FCL Orientation Handbook.
|Commercial and Government Entity Code (CAGE Code)
||DCSA uses CAGE Codes to track basic facility information. If your company does not already have a CAGE Code, contractors can register with the System for Award Management (SAM) database to get a CAGE Code at https://www.sam.gov/. If a company does not have a CAGE code prior to initiation of the FCL process, significant delays or discontinuation of the process could occur.
|Prepare for the Telephonic Survey
A member of the FCL team will be contacting you to schedule a telephonic survey. To prepare for this survey, contractors must be familiar with the guidance provided in the FCL Orientation Handbook. Contractors are encouraged to collect and review your legal documentation discussed in the handbook prior to this call. A person familiar with the legal structure of your company as well as the Facility Security Officer should participate.
Upon review of your legal documentation, contractors are encouraged to start identifying the Key Management Personnel (KMP) for your company. KMP are discussed in detail in the FCL Orientation Handbook. Certain KMP are required to be cleared in connection with the facility clearance based off the legal structure of the company. To streamline the process, KMP who you believe will be required to be cleared can start collecting information pertaining to their background investigation paperwork after reviewing the handbook. To get an idea of what information will be required, KMP can visit the Personnel Clearance toolkit and review the form “SF 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions.” Please be aware that DCSA will require proof of citizenship for any KMP in process for a background investigation.
You should also begin researching the best method for your KMP to obtain electronic fingerprints. There are many ways to submit these fingerprints and details are provided in the e-QIP and Electronic Fingerprint Guide for In-Process Facilities.
Prepare for a DCSA visit
Download the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM). Becoming familiar with the NISPOM will take a great deal of time and will, likewise, require a determined effort.
Security Toolkits can be found here. These toolkits provide information on required training for the FSO and the ITPSO. You are also encouraged to begin taking these courses.
DCSA Facility Process Forms
You will be required to complete certain forms as part of the facility clearance process. The DD Form 441 and the SF 328 are two of these forms. Please visit the Facility Clearance Toolkit for links to these forms. If you are a branch or division office, you will need to complete the addendum to the DD 441, called the DD Form 441-1. If you will be excluding parent companies or certain KMP, you will need to complete exclusion resolutions. Examples of these are in the FCL Orientation Handbook.