Before a defense contractor can perform on a classified contact, it must be approved for a security clearance. You might familiar with security clearances for people, but defense contractor facilities must also be approved for security clearances called a facility clearance (FCL). Having an FCL doesn’t mean that a particular building is approved for a clearance, but rather the determination is based on the entity. For example, a defense contractor facility may be a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company, corporation, university or other recognized establishment. It is the organization itself and not the building that gets the clearance.
A company cannot process itself for a clearance. The clearance is based on a legitimate classified contract from either a government entity or other prime contractor. A company can bid on a classified contract even if it does not possess an FCL. However, it must receive the FCL prior to beginning to work on the classified contract.
When a defense contractor has a legitimate need for a clearance, it is sponsored by the awarding government agency or prime contractor. This sponsorship begins the process of the clearance request. The sponsoring organization notifies Defense Security Services (DSS) who works with the defense contractor to complete the requirements for an FCL. To be eligible for a clearance, the defense contractor facility must first have a good reputation for doing business and be in good standing. DSS will research and evaluate the company. Meanwhile, the candidate company works with DSS to provide four remaining requirements.
A security agreement (DD Form 441) must be signed. This agreement describes the responsibilities that both the contractor and government have to protect classified information. For example, in the security agreement the government agrees to provide security clearances and the contractor agrees to follow the National Industrial …