Facility Security Clearance: Definitions And Terminology
1. What is a facility security clearance ?An FCL is a determination made by the Government that a contractor is eligible for access to classified information.
- A contractor must have an FCL commensurate with the highest level of classified access required for contract performance.
- It is a clearance of the business entity it has nothing to do with the physical office structure.
- In addition to having an FCL, some companies are required to safeguard classified information at their location. If this is the case, then they must receive Government approval to safeguard classified information. Most Department of State contracts do not require safeguarding.
2. Does the Department of State issue FCLs to contractors?No. The Department of State is a User Agency under the National Industrial Security Program which is administered by Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency , formerly Defense Security Service . DCSA issues FCLs for most contractors working for the Department of State.
3. Why do some procurements issued by the Department of State require a contractor to have an FCL?In essence, if personnel working for a contractor require access to classified information in the performance of their duties, the contractor must have an FCL and the personnel must have personnel security clearances . Therefore:
5. What is a classified contract?
A classified contract can take many forms, to include the following examples:
Obtaining Top Secret Clearance
The process of obtaining top secret security clearance involves a comprehensive background investigation. Research is conducted to discover a persons criminal history, as well as their credit history. United States citizenship will be verified, along with birth date, education and employment history, military service and residence. Interviews may be conducted with an individuals family, spouse, neighbors and co-workers. Public records are searched for divorces or civil actions. Medical history may be reviewed if the individual has a history or substance abuse or mental illness. The candidate will also be involved in a personal interview.
The Background Investigation Process
|A job candidate receives a conditional offer of employment and completes and submits the appropriate form either a Questionnaire for National Security Positions, Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions, or Questionnaire for Public Trust Positions and other required forms to the appropriate hiring office.|
|The hiring office reviews and submits the completed questionnaire and other required forms known as the security package to DSS.|
|DSS reviews the security package and formally opens a background investigation.|
|DSS conducts record and fingerprint checks against commercial and government databases.|
|DSS verifies and corroborates key information and events from the candidates past and recent history. This may include interviews of people who know the candidate well. The investigator may conduct a face-to-face interview with the candidate as part of the process.|
|After the investigation is complete, DSS adjudicates and determines the candidates national security eligibility according to Security Executive Agent Directive 4: National Security Adjudicative Guidelines .|
|In some cases, background investigations may be forwarded to a Department of State Human Resources suitability panel.|
|After determining the candidates national security eligibility, DSS contacts the appropriate hiring authority.|
Publicizing Top Secret Clearance
In U.S. federal government jobsincluding those in the militarythere are three national security clearance levels: confidential, secret, and top secret.
A number of the LinkedIn profiles Fortune found were advertising Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance, with individuals who displayed their security clearance status working in a mixture of private sector and government jobs.
A spokesperson for the National Counterintelligence and Security Center at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence told Fortune that individuals working for the U.S. government were encouraged to take a range of steps at a minimum when it came to social media.
Those steps included taking care about what was posted on social media about their workincluding security clearancesas it could draw attention from criminals or adversaries.
Other steps federal workers were advised to take included never accepting online invitations to connect from people they dont knoweven if they are a friend of a friendand validating requests to connect through other means before accepting them.
Staff were also encouraged to review their social media settings to control the amount of information they were presenting to the public, the NCSC spokesperson added.
Fortune sent requests to connect to a handful of random LinkedIn users who were publicly advertising their active TS/SCI status on their profiles. Almost all of them accepted, despite the request coming from a complete stranger.
Doe Classification And Security< 1>
The Department of Energy operates many programs that involve sensitivenational security issues the nuclear weapons program is one of the mostsensitive. Because of the national security implications of its programs, DOErequires most employees — its own and those of its contractors — to undergopersonnel security investigations and obtain and maintain security clearances.The security clearance is intended to restrict access to classified information,material, and security areas to those who, through the personnel securityinvestigation process, are found trustworthy and those whose positions requiresuch access. The clearance is one of two requirements that must be met to obtainaccess. The second is an official need for specific access to perform one’s job.DOE Order 5631.2A, December 1985, sets out the agency’s personnel securitypolicy, program, and requirements. DOE’S Director of Safeguards and Securitydevelops policies, standards, guides, and procedures to implement the order.DOE’s decentralized management structure allows the field office managersflexibility to interpret and implement these orders and regulations. Programimplementation is the responsibility of the director at headquarters and of themanagers at 8 field offices which oversee the activities of contractors at 27DoE-owned facilities.
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Jobs That Require Security Clearance
Anyone who works in a job that requires access to national security information requires clearance. This includes people in federal government and military jobs, from executive-level roles to non-sensitive positions in custodial staff. These roles may include librarians, IT system administrators, and more. Clearance levels must be at or higher than the level of information you will handle. They also vary according to your position, responsibilities, and the systems you use in your role.
In addition to federal agencies, those working for private organizations that have contracts with the government require a security clearance. Employees of companies, non-profit organizations, think tanks, and research organizations with federal contracts or grants may need to undergo this background investigation.
Agencies that deal with the intelligence community, federal law enforcement, diplomacy, and military often require higher levels of clearance. Besides the CIA and FBI mentioned above, these agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration , United States Agency for International Development , Defense Intelligence Agency, Office of National Security Intelligence, Homeland Security, and more.
How Long Are Security Clearances In Effect
Security clearances are in effect for as long as you hold your position or role, with reviews taking place at different interim periods. Top Secret clearance holders must have a formal review after five years, Secret security clearance holders have a review after 10 years and reviews take place after 15 years for a Confidential security clearance. However, your agency may re-investigate a security clearance before your formal review period via a random background check.
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History Of Security Clearances
The Civil Service Act of 1883 established a merit-based system for hiring and overseeing government employees. This system required civil servants to show good character and reputation.
In 1939, the Hatch Act expanded this concept. The act eliminated government employment for anyone who joined a political movement advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. During World War II, an executive order mandated fingerprinting for government employees.
In 1954, the Department of Energy created a structure to protect restricted data. Eighteen years later, the Department of Defense launched the Defense Investigation Service to put all background checks under a single unit.
Since the 1970s, the federal government has launched many more initiatives to streamline and sustain security clearances.
Security Levels For Organizations
- Designated organization screening
- Allows an organization to send appropriately security screened personnel with a need-to-know to restricted work sites to access protected information and assets.
- Facility security screening
- Allows an organization to send appropriately security screened personnel with a need-to-know to restricted work sites to access protected and classified information and assets.
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What Would Necessitate A Certain Level Of Security Clearance
A security clearance is required for individuals who plan to work for an organization that involves access to restricted information. The military is the largest securer of security clearances. When these individuals leave the service, the majority keep their security clearances and take their designations to a civilian job. About 200,000 military personnel transition out of the service each year to enter into employment in fields like defense, where they can put their honed military and technical skills to good use.
Along with defense contractors, the medical, education, telecommunications, and financial fields have jobs that require security clearances due to the safeguards of critical information.
Each employment position may require a certain level of security clearance.
Sensitive Compartmented Information And Special Access Programs
In fact, the terms refer to methods of handling certain types of classified information that relate to specific national-security topics or programs or the sensitive nature of which requires special handling, and thereby those accessing it require special approval to access it.
The paradigms for these two categories, SCI originating in the intelligence community and SAP in the Department of Defense, formalize ‘Need to Know’ and addresses two key logistical issues encountered in the day-to-day control of classified information:
- Individuals with a legitimate need to know may not be able to function effectively without knowing certain facts about their work. However, granting all such individuals a blanket DoD clearance at the Top Secret level would be undesirable, not to mention prohibitively expensive.
- The government may wish to limit certain types of sensitive information only to those who work directly on related programs, regardless of the collateral clearance they hold. Thus, even someone with a Top Secret clearance cannot gain access to its Confidential information unless it is specifically granted.
To be clear, “collateral” simply means one lacks special access . Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret are all, by themselves, collateral clearance levels.
Access to compartmented information
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Maintaining An Fcl: Practices
14. How does a cleared contractor process its personnel for personnel security clearances ?When an employee working for a cleared company requires access to classified information in the performance of his or her duties, the companys FSO initiates the process process for the employee to be processed for a PCL through DCSA. Individuals cannot apply for a personnel security clearance on their own.
The FSO initiates the individual employees access to the Standard Form 86 Questionnaire for National Security Position and the applicant completes the SF-86 electronically via the Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing system and provides additional documentation as required.
e-QIPs must be submitted on all KMP and on all contractor personnel who are required to be cleared to perform on a classified contract .
NOTE: Individual contractor personnel cannot be issued PCLs until the KMP have been issued PCLs and the company has been issued an FCL.
15. Does a cleared contractor always have to store classified documents at its location?No, the contractor will only be required to store classified documents at their location if it is a contract requirement. Most Department contracts do not include this requirement and contractor personnel access classified information at Department locations.
Some, but not all, of the many responsibilities of the FSO include:
The Three Security Clearance Levels Do Not Travel To Non
Many retired or separated military members or non-military family members wonder about job openings that describe having a security clearance as a plus, or even a requirement. In the case of a non-government job, this is likely a request to know what clearance level the applicant had in government service but federal security clearances themselves do not transfer to non-government jobs.
This means that your clearance may give you an advantage in hiring as a trusted member of the military or as a government employee, but your Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret clearance does not allow you to utilize such clearances in the private sector. They are not applicable.
That does not mean that a future employer doesnt have their own set of clearances or levels of classified information, but it does mean that any such designation in the private sector has no association at all with government service, or access to classified government data.
Security Clearances May Travel Between Government Jobs Or Military Assignments
In general, the ability to use an existing clearance in another federal or military job is dependent on the rules of the gaining and losing agencies, and whether the employee is due for a re-investigation after a certain period of time five years is not uncommon, but some employees who have left federal service and are returning may be re-investigated on different time frames.
Clearance Expiration After Leaving Government Service
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About The Department Of Justice
All applicants for attorney and intern positions with DOJ will undergo a suitability review and determination. If a candidates position requires access to classified information, the Departments security staff will determine whether to grant a security clearance based on the results of the appropriate investigation. Both the suitability review and the security clearance are based on information provided to DOJ by the candidate on the completed SF and information contained in background checks. A BI is only required for those candidates who work at DOJ for six months or more. For most law students, given the short duration of their time at DOJ, the suitability review will be limited to a fingerprint check, credit check, drug test, and review of their forms, which includes a check of their prior employers.
Decisions on potential suitability for employment are made after careful consideration of the totality of the circumstances, including any aggravating and/or mitigating factors. Because the final decision is fact-specific, the use of terms like disqualifying can be misleading. Do not prematurely opt out of the application process. Check the DOJ website for answers to common questions and concerns.
After you have received a provisional offer of employment, you may anonymously contact the DOJ OARM at 514-8900 and ask to speak with an attorney for advice regarding background checks.
Security Clearance Level : Q Clearance
The above security clearance levels are used by many US government agencies, yet the United States Department of Energy issues two more. The first additional level of clearance is known as Q Clearance.
Q Clearance allows the individual access to sensitive information up to and including Top Secret information. The level comes with the special designation Restricted Data and includes special Q-cleared security areas.
The Interim Security Clearance
If a hiring office requests it, an applicant may be granted an interim security clearance within a few weeks after submitting a complete security package. Final clearances usually are processed and adjudicated in less than 90 days. With an interim clearance, classified work can be performed but in a temporary capacity until a background investigation has been completed.
Who Gets A Dod Security Clearance
Anyone who must access classified areas, equipment, or data must have the appropriate clearance to do so. There are three basic clearance levels: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret.
There are also programs that indicate an added layer of security required. In such cases there are Sensitive Compartmented Information and Special Access Programs indicatorsan employee requires special SCI Access or SAP approval in addition to a security clearance.
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Honesty Is The Best Policy
Inconsistencies and omissions on the SF and other forms are a common problem. As in all your activities seeking employment and your activities as a lawyer, you must answer all questionnaires honestly. In addition to the ethical implications of lying, an investigation may be conducted based on the forms, and dishonesty on the forms is a federal offense subject to fine or imprisonment, not to mention a basis for finding you unfit for federal government employment. You could be found unfit for federal employment because you did not reveal activities which, if properly disclosed, might not have been a barrier to employment. And remember, simply waiting a year before applying will often solve your problem since the government is less concerned with past indiscretions than with your behavior in law school and the recent past.
Levels Of Security Clearance
National security clearances are organized into a hierarchy. Each of the three levels below indicate the maximum level of classified information you can access.
Confidential clearance: This type of security clearance is the least restrictive. It provides access to information that can cause damage to national security if it is disclosed without authorization. It must be reinvestigated for continued eligibility every 15 years. Additionally, confidential clearance requires a National Agency Check, Local Agency Check, and Credit Check .
Secret clearance: Provides access to information that can cause serious damage to national security if disclosed without authorization. Must be reinvestigated for continued eligibility every 10 years and requires NACLC and a Credit investigation .
Top secret clearance: This type of security clearance is most restrictive and provides access to information that can cause grave damage to national security if disclosed without authorization. Must be reinvestigated for continued eligibility every five years. Typically granted after a Single Scope Background Investigation , for data related to counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and other extremely sensitive information .
Sensitive compartmented information involves intelligence-related methods and sources. This clearance is typically granted only after rigorous SSBI and adjudication processes, and only in compartments with their own specific requirements and clearances .