How to Obtain a Facility Clearance (FCL)

Ah, the great bane of many start up federal contractors is how does one obtain a Classified Facility Clearance (FCL)?  You cannot pursue classified contracts without one and you cannot obtain one without having a classified contract…a classic catch-22!  Hopefully, the process will be clearer by the time you finish reading this post.

Your company will need a facility clearance to pursue or team with another company for classified work and to have the ability to hold clearances for your employees.  As a Government Contractor, having a facility clearance is vital to growing your business and going after classified opportunities.  So how do you go about obtaining an FCL and having a classified Cage Code?

There are two way to obtain an FCL.  The first is to win a classified contract. The Government will issue an DD Form 254 which allows you to apply for a FCL through the Defense Security Service (DSS).  However, the actually ability to bid and win a classified contract without a FCL is difficult at best as many proposals require a company to already have one.

The best way forward is the second option which is to be sponsored as a subcontractor by a company holding a classified contract.  As part of the subcontract, the prime contractor will prepare a DD Form 254 allowing you to request an FCL from the Defense Security Service (DSS).

So how can you find a sponsor?  You will need to build relationships with larger primes that may be willing to bring you on.  There are many successful business owners that understand the difficulties of starting out and are often willing to provide a leg up.  As a business owner, you have to go out into the contracting community to establish yourself.  If you have set aside status as a SDVOSB, it can be beneficial for the prime to establish a working relationship with you as there are several small business set asides where larger companies cannot bid as a prime and must be a subcontractor under a small business.  The bottom line is you will need to prove that you will be a valuable partner and will bring value to the relationship. Other small companies have done and continue to do so and so can too.

For a start up business, subcontracting to other established contractor is not only a way to obtain past performance, but to also obtain a facility clearance.

Once you have found a company to sponsor your facility clearance, there are a slew of paperwork requirements through DSS.  I’ve posted about the about the process here

Until then, go out and take action today!

With Love and Respect,



2 thoughts on “How to Obtain a Facility Clearance (FCL)

  1. For a current RFP, advertised in FBO, that requires a FCL, how do I ask the contracting agency to approve/recommend my company for the FCL?


    • Hi Joe – You can email the Contract POC listed in the announcement to ask for a waiver. If they agree and you win, you would be provided a DD Form 254 (This is the document that authorizes your company to hold an FCL) to apply for a Facility Clearance (FCL) through DSS. Since the process can take several weeks to complete it could cause a delay in contract start. This is the reason why many contracting officers require a company to have an FCL in order to bid. As a reminder, to obtain a Facility Clearance (FCL) your company would have to be on a classified contract which then provides the DD Form 254 (I know this seems like a catch 22). There are two ways of obtaining one: 1. Provided by the Government when a company wins a contract that requires employees to possess a security clearance; 2. Provided by a Prime company to another company when they are a subcontractor. To be able to bid on classified contracts, your best path forward is to use your contacts and social network to subcontract to a company that has a classified contract. That is how I obtained the FCL for my company.


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