Facility Clearance Process FAQs

  1. What is a facility?
  2. What is a facility clearance?
  3. Can a facility apply for its own facility clearance?
  4. How does a facility become eligible to be considered for a classified bid or quotation?
  5. Once a request is made, what is involved in getting a facility security clearance?
  6. What does the facility clearance cost the contractor?
  7. What type of security controls must be in place if a facility is cleared?
  8. How long does the facility clearance remain in effect?
  9. Can the government conduct assessements of a cleared facility?
  10. Where do I send any clearance requests or inquiries?

1. What is a facility?
The term facility is used within the NISP as a common designation for an operating entity consisting of a plant, laboratory, office, college, university, or commercial structure with associated warehouse, storage areas, utilities and components, which are related by function or location. It does not refer to Government installations.

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2. What is a facility clearance?
A facility clearance (FCL) is an administrative determination that, from a national security standpoint, a facility is eligible for access to classified information at the same or lower classification category as the clearance being granted. The FCL may be granted at the Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret level. The FCL includes the execution of a Department of Defense Security Agreement (DD Form 441). Under the terms of the agreement, the Government agrees to issue the FCL and inform the contractor as to the security classification of information to which the contractor will have access. The contractor, in turn, agrees to abide by the security requirements set forth in the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, commonly referred to as the NISPOM.

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3. Can a facility apply for its own facility clearance?
No. A contractor or prospective contractor cannot apply for its own facility clearance. A procuring activity of the Government, or cleared contractor in the case of subcontracting, may request the clearance when a definite, classified procurement need has been established.

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4. How does a facility become eligible to be considered for a classified bid or quotation?
The same process used in the case of an unclassified procurement is involved. The facility must qualify as a bidder to a Government procurement activity or to a prime contractor or subcontractor performing on a Government contract. If the bid or potential subcontract involves access to classified information, the procuring activity or cleared prime contractor submits a request to clear the prospective bidder. Personnel from the Facility Clearance Branch at Defense Security Service (DSS) evaluate the request and assure that the request is valid. Part of this validation includes confirmation that the facility has a reputation for integrity and lawful conduct in its business dealings. Further, the contractor and its key managers must not be in a "barred" status from participating in Government contracts.

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5. Once a request is made, what is involved in getting a facility clearance?
When the Facility Clearance Branch at DSS determines that the request is valid, processing information is relayed to the appropriate DSS Industrial Security Field Office. The facility is then assigned to a DSS Industrial Security Representative (IS Rep). The IS Rep will obtain information concerning the facility, provide the facility with instructions on completing the necessary forms, and provide basic information about the NISP. The IS Rep will also provide guidance to the facility in establishing an industrial security program.

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6. What does the facility clearance cost the contractor?
There is no direct charge to the contractor for processing a facility clearance. However, the contractor is responsible for security costs associated with participation in the NISP (such as classified storage containers, etc.). Accordingly, contractors should determine their security requirements and related costs and consider such costs when submitting a bid. The IS Rep can assist the facility in determining the necessary security requirements.

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7. What type of security controls must be in place if a facility is cleared?
The NISPOM prescribes the minimum security requirements that must be fulfilled by cleared contractors. The IS Rep can provide guidance to the contractor in implementing these requirements in their facility. The implementation of these requirements will ensure the adequate safeguarding of the classified information involved. In some cases, Government agencies have requirements for additional safeguards. For example, if your contract requires you to institute a Special Access Program, additional controls beyond those normally required will be necessary. Such controls can include special clearances and investigative requirements.

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8. How long does the facility clearance remain in effect?
The facility clearance remains in effect as long as the Security Agreement, DD Form 441, is effective. This agreement may be terminated by either party by thirty days notice. Generally, most facility clearances remain in effect as long as there is a need for the contractor to have access to classified information.

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9. Can the government conduct assessments of a cleared facility?
Periodic security vulnerability assessment of all cleared contractors are conducted by the assigned IS Rep to ensure that safeguards employed by contractors are adequate for the protection of classified information. The IS Rep will determine the frequency of such formal assessment, but an assessment will normally be conducted annually.

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10. Where do I send any clearance requests or inquiries?
For all FCL request and questions please submit inquires to occ.facilities@dss.mil.

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