Greetings from Doha, Qatar and the Giant Teddy Bear

 

I was just in Doha, Qatar for work associated with my position as a contractor. Qatar has been on a building frenzy and has recently opened a new airport — Hamad International Airport dohahamadairport.com/.  The airport is absolutely stunning.  Along with luxury shops and exotic sports cars there was a giant teddy bear sitting in the middle of the airport!

352

If you find yourself on business travel, do not let it be an excuse to  keep you from taking action to push your business forward.

For example, after working hours, my partners had arranged to meet with a company pursuing a training contract with the Qatari Government.  Our company’s namesake Doug Whetstone, one of my partners, is an expert in security screening and deceptive behavior detection; his proprietary techniques to detect deceptive behavior know as Body Language Assessment and Scoring Technique (BLAST) is something we are interested in offering in the Middle East  http://whetstonesecurity.com/blast-deception-expert-training.php.

The good news is the meeting concluded with an agreement to have Whetstone Security Group to subcontract to potentially provide BLAST training to the Ministry of Interior.

Remember to always operate with honesty and integrity for there is always an opportunity to provide great service and dedication to your current obligations while continuing to pursue your own business goals in your off time.

Life is about balance and pursuing the best life possible for yourself and those you love.  As such, I am currently in Frankfurt, Germany awaiting my next flight to Ljubljana, Slovenia where I will meet my wife and daughter to start a family vacation. In my opinion, family time is just as important as our business pursuits.  Make time to spend with your family … but remember to take action each and every day!

With Love and Respect,

Gary

Advertisements

Fight Resistance – Gain Momentum and Velocity

The video above is by Steven Pressfield.  He is the author of “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” a very readable book that I highly recommend.  The premise is getting past resistance by becoming a professional.  You may believe the book is about getting past writer’s block, but its real message is about living your potential.  I found it powerful and believe it should be read by anyone thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, artist, writer or otherwise engaged in the act of creation.

Like many entrepreneurs, you may be launching your business while you still have your day job. Until you have sufficient revenue to support both your business and yourself, working on your business is done whenever you can find time. Do not let this be an excuse for not moving forward!  Action leads to momentum and velocity to reach your business and personal goals.  I will continue to make action a theme in all I write as it is something I struggle with.

We all have obligations – besides paying the bills, we also need to invest time in our spouses, kids, and hopefully ourselves.  So how do we find time to do it all without becoming overwhelmed?  There are only so many hours in the day, so as entrepreneurs we have to use our time to our best advantage.

Early mornings are where we can all find an extra two hours to devote to our businesses.  That’s 10 hours a week to gain momentum.  After the chores are done and the kids have gone to bed, there are usually another 1 to 2 hours in the evening available.  That’s another 5 to 10 hours a week with weekends available for catchup time.

For me, Saturday mornings and evenings are devoted to the business.  Saturday afternoon are devoted to my family along with Sunday mornings.  I usually devote another 2 hours on Sunday evenings.  That’s a total of 25 to 30 hours to devote a business on a regular schedule.  There will also be time when you are working on a proposal or other projects that will need addition evening and weekend hours, but you can do this!  You may find that you actually enjoy seeing your business start to evolve and also enjoy your down time more especially when you realize how productive you’ve become.

The time we spend working toward our business goals will provide small successes that will help to keep us motivated.  As always, take action each and every day to keep your dreams alive.  When you want to sit on the couch or putter around, that is the evil presence of resistance.  When you have this feeling, it is time to fight and do something that will drive your business forward.

Somethings will no longer be on your daily schedule.  One of the primary activity you will not longer have time for is the great dream killer – television.  I’m not suggesting that you will never watch TV again, but when you do need to veg out (and we all do), it will probably only be for 2 or 3 hours a week rather than every day.

We can also use time to increase our knowledge. For example, I like to read or listen to pod-casts about entrepreneurship.  Pod-cast and audio books are a great way to learn while driving or waiting in traffic.

My advice is to place the following on your daily “to do” list:

1.  Spend time with your family

2.  Spend quite time to think and mediate

3.  Exercise

4. Work toward your dreams

5. Sleep 7 to 8 hours a night

Life is more satisfying when you have your priorities right.  We can have more control of our futures and relationships.  It’s time to turn pro!

With Love and Respect,

Gary

What are Wrap Rates?

Ah, price-to-win strategies, cost volumes, cost narratives, wrap rates and spreadsheets, some of the simple joys of Government contract proposal development.   Okay, I think I literally heard some snores coming from across the blogisphere.

When I first tried figuring out wrap rates, my mind practically seized up from the shear effort of trying to understand them.  The purpose of this post is to hopefully help you avoid some of the same lost in the lost in the woods feeling I had; I could find almost nothing on the internet about building up labor costs or a definition of wrap rates.

In this blog, I will attempt to guide you through some contractor pricing jargon such as wrap rate (indirect rate) [If anyone happens to be a honest-to-goodness pricer, please feel free to correct me; I will make no assumptions that the information is error free, but it is a good starting point].  I will also show you how to build up a fully burdened labor rate.

As discuss in a previous blog about Government proposals, “Sections C, L and M – What the Heck?” http://wp.me/p4xkC1-2Q, a cost volume is one of the documents you will develop and submit when you pursue a Government proposal.  The price volume normally consists of a cost narrative and spreadsheet(s) showing your cost buildup and price to the Government.

Government contractors closely guard what is commonly referred to as wrap rates.  Wrap rates are those costs that go into the final price you charge the Government for your services or products.  The wrap rate is the total percentage of indirect costs that are multiplied to by base cost to determine a sale price.  Contractor compete against each other, so having a low wrap rate is an advantage over your competitors.  FYI -aggressive contractors try to get close to a 1.6 percent wrap rate.  So what costs go into wrap rates (indirect costs)?

Overhead (O/H) cost – Costs associated with your business such as overhead salaries, recruitment, utilities, equipment, travel, office supplies.

General and Administrative (G&A) cost –  Cost for infrastructure support such as human resources, pay roll services, rent, and etc.

Fringe –  cost of employee health insurance, paid days off, holiday pay, employer sponsored retirement plan (401K) and etc.

Fee – Fee is simply your profit.

Miscellaneous cost – some companies have additional wraps they place against their price such as Material and Handling (M&H); however, what wraps you use depends upon how your company’s financials are structured.

Now you know some of the costs that go into building your price, let’s take the following example. if you are bidding on a proposal that requires the contractor to provide the labor category of administrative assistance, you will need to determine:

1.  The salary your company will propose for the admin assistant.  In our example, let’s say the average salary you can hire an admin assistant is $45,000 a year.

2.  You will divide the salary by 2080 hours.  2080 is the standard for a man year (the total hours a  person would work during a 12-month period).  This give you the hourly unburdened (no wrap) labor rate of $21.63.

3.  Let’s suppose you have the following wrap rates.  They are multiplied against the unburdened hourly labor rate:

Fringe is 30% * $21.63 = $6.49
OH is 10% * $21.63 = $2.16
G&A is 10% * $30.29 ($21.63 (Unburdened Labor) + $.6.49 (Fringe) + $2.16 (OH)) = $3.03
Fee is 10% * 33.32 = $36.65

Wrap Rate:  1.694 percent fully burdened

*You multiply the percentages by the hourly rate and then add the amounts to the hourly labor rate to develop the fully burdened rate.

The formula is $45,000.00 ÷ 2080 =$21.63+ $6.49 (Fringe)+ $2.16 (OH) +$3.03 (G&A is applied to the base plus fringe and OH) =$36.65

The bill (sell) rate of $36.65 is your fully burdened rate.

*Note: there are various ways that wraps can be applied.  This is just how I learned to build up rates.

The Government usually specifies the number of hours that they expect a contractor to work each year.  They can vary but are normally between 1860 hours at the low end to up to 1920 hours.  The difference between the allowable hours and the full man year are usually placed against the fringe cost.  Vacation and holiday hours are normally paid by the contractor.

So this is how you deconstruct a man year between billable and non-billable hours to meet a Government requirement of 1920 labor hours :

2080 (Normal man year)
-1920 (Billable hours)
= 160 (non-billable hours)

160 (non-billable hours; Fringe cost)
– 80 (vacation hours)
– 80 (holiday hours)
= 0 (all hours accounted for)

Wasn’t that fun?  As I may have alluded, I am no pricer, but as a contractor, I need to understand how rates are built up and what will be competitive and you do too.

For simple proposals, I develop the costing myself, but for complicated proposals or efforts where I need to ensure that I am not placing the company in financial jeopardy,  I hire a professional to build the proposal spreadsheets.  They can also offer strategies on reducing your wrap rate and lowering costs.  The bottom line is do not risk under pricing a proposal that may break the bank and endanger your company’s financial health.

Proposals can be a huge drain on a start-up’s limited financial resources, so if you have someone build your spreadsheets for you, try to understand how the spreadsheet works so that you can reuse it on various bids.

Besides labor costs, there may be Other Direct Costs (ODCs).  ODCs are costs such as travel, vehicle rental, housing, allowances or special overseas workman compensation type insurance know as Defense Base Act (DBA). The Government does not allow fee on ODCs — only allows G&A and M&H cost to be applied.  Fee is only applied to labor for service type contracts.

As I stated earlier, along with the pricing spreadsheet, you will need to provide a cost narrative.  This is a text document that explains how your OH, G&A, and other costs are set up.  It also states whether you are Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) compliant.  You can find checklists and tools that may be helpful here: http://www.dcaa.mil/checklist_and_tools.html

This is a link to a sample spreadsheet from the US Army.  It may scare you more than help! http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDMQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.smdc.army.mil%2FContracts%2FSETAC10%2FRFP%2FATTACHMENT%252010%2520-%2520COST_PRICE%2520PROPOSAL%2520WORKSHEET.xlsx&ei=Kl6WU6DzA8ymyASsv4DIBw&usg=AFQjCNHzl3zYems__18y23SfZzDqQM6LtA&sig2=vXzrvKzGCtNGg0dXsVJGTg&bvm=bv.68445247,d.aWw&cad=rja

This is my down and dirty primer on wrap rates and labor cost build ups.  I hope it is of some use to you as you make your way to the world of a Government Contractor.

Remember:  take action each and every day to keep your dreams alive.  Stay persistent and you can achieve great things!

With Love and Respect,

Gary

What Counts in Business and Life?

What is truly important?

Most of us would agree some things are at the top of the list: family, friends, health, and financial stability might be some things that come to mind.  Along with these, I believe that self development is a life-long necessity to have a truly  amazing life.  Why do we often do things, and why do we oftentimes not do things although they could change our lives for the worse or better? For the most part, it may simply be habit, learned behavior, and social conditioning.

I’ve been trying to be more conscious of my total experience — my thoughts, emotions, physical being, and etc. — aware and living in the present moment. When I practice awareness, I find I am more centered and can observe that voice in my head that is constantly jumping from the past to the future, judging, analyzing, criticizing and comparing; I find that all these things are simply that – the voice in my head which is often associated with a subtle and underlying fear.

The more I pay attention, the less meaning and weight these random thoughts and emotions hold sway over me. How I view myself and the world around me are determined more by my internal values and beliefs and less so by outside factors. This allows me to avoid wasting my mental energy on useless biological chatter. There may have been a time in our distant past that this constant analysis keep us safe, but for me, it is no longer useful.

So what does all of this have to do with starting a business? In is my belief that the more in touch we are with ourselves and what we actually want out of life, the better we are at doing things that serve us well, not only mentally, but financially. By being focusing on what is truly important in life and business, we are more productive and can better balance family and work.

Some common results of paying attention and relegating internal chatter to the trash bin:

1. We solidly know our vision and set goals
2. We are better at making critical decision
3. We come up with more ideas
4. We desire to surround ourselves with like-minded people
5. We complain less and demonstrate more gratitude
6. We take better care of ourselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually and as a result take better care of others
7. We abandon the emotional roller coaster
8. Passion begins to grow

This doesn’t mean that you are suddenly this enlightened being no longer bothered by the pettiness of mere mortals. We all grapple with finding balance and meaning in our daily lives, but by being aware and spending 15 to 20 minutes daily to reflect on and examine my thoughts, my world has become fuller and more satisfying. I hope it help you also in both life and business.

Here’s to being aware enough to know what is truly important

With Love and Respect,

Gary

Sections C, L and M – What the Heck?

This blog post is a primer to  guide you through the Government request for proposal (RFP) process.

Starting out as a Federal Contractor can be an intimidating experience, but the rewards can be substantial.  There are very few businesses that can go from a start up to having a multimillion dollar contract in a very short time span.  And with the Government’s sudden shift to Low-Price, Technically-Acceptable (LPTA) proposals and small business set-asides, your business can be competitive without past performance — a major advantage to a newly launch business.  The evaluation factors for LPTA proposal and winning comes down to who has a technically acceptable proposal and the lowest (realistic) price.

Now that you’ve located an opportunity under your NAICS code where you believe you can be competitive, what are the next steps?

You will need review the Request for Proposal (RFP).  The RFP is a document that informs you of the requirements the Government is looking to have a contractor perform.  Try not to be overly intimidated by the size of the RFP; you do not need to read the entire proposal although, you may want to be familiar with the standard contract jargon that goes into Government RFPs.  After going threw a few RFPs, before long you will be able to quickly determine what is important to know.  For now, all you need is the most critical information found on the cover page and in  Sections C, L and M.

The cover page will inform you of the type of contract, Cost plus, (CP) Firm Fixed Price – Level of Effort (FFP-LOE), or Time and Material (T&M) or derivatives of these types of contracts.  You should also become familiar with the the Federal Acquisition Regulation www.acquisition.gov. You can look up and review the FAR references that apply to the proposal.

You have already determined if the proposal falls within your NAICS code, so now see if the proposal is Full and Open (meaning it is open to all contractors) or a set-aside contract (set asides are only open to those companies qualifying, such as SDVOSB, WOSB, 8(a), and etc.)

If you are not familiar with Federal Contracting, please see my previous blog posts on building a pipeline http://wp.me/p4xkC1-16 and competing for Federal Contracts http://wp.me/p4xkC1-Q

After downloading the Request for Proposal (RFP), you will need to:

1. Review Section C – the Statement of Work (SOW), this is the Government’s requirements for the service they are expecting a contractor to perform.

2. Look at Section L – this is where you learn the Government’s requirements for formatting (font size and type; page count, and etc.) and the organization of the proposal volumes (Technical, Program Management, Past Performance, Security, and Cost) of the proposal you will deliver to the Government.

3.  Closely review Section M – this is where the Government lists the criteria they will evaluate each proposal volume .  Failure to follow all the Government’s requirements could result in a non-compliance proposal which will automatically be taken out of competition.

4.  Develop and Outline – Once you have reviewed the RFP, you will need to develop an outline for each volume you will be writing.  You will want to provide an outline that will provide you with the best organizational flow for how you will meet the Government’s requirements.  Sometimes it can tricky to combine the SOW and evaluation criteria so it flows logically and smoothly but you should include both both Section A and M in your outline.

Below is a sample of a Technical Volume outline I developed for a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposal.  Remember, you are providing the Government what they are requesting, not what you believe they should have.  Make sure that you following L & M to the letter and combined them within  your outline.  Beautiful writing does not win proposals — compliant and technically sound proposals win when combined with price.  Also be aware that various sections are assigned higher weighted values for the overall evaluation of the proposal.

************************************************

NOTE:  This is the sample outline with guidance taken from the RFP combining sections L & M and guidance for Volume I, Technical.  The outline decomposes the Government’s requirements to include page count limits.  Anywhere you see “writer’s directions” this was added by me to help the writer know the Government’s criteria.  RFP guidance varies based on the Government customer and the type of procurement.

Writer’s Directions: The information provided from the RFP provides overall guidance for the proposal submission. This information will be deleted after the guidance is no longer needed by the writers.

III.1       52.212-1 INSTRUCTIONS TO OFFERORS — COMMERCIAL ITEMS (JUL2013)

(a)   North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code and small business size standard.  The NAICS code and small business size standard for this acquisition appear in Block 10 of the solicitation coversheet (SF1449). However, the small business size standard for a concern which submits an offer in its own  name, but which proposes to furnish an item which it did not itself manufacture, is 500 employees.

(b)  Submission of offers. Submit signed and dated offers to the office specified in this solicitation at or before the exact time specified in this solicitation.

(1)  The solicitation number
(2)  The time specified in the solicitation for receipt of offers;
(3)  The name, address, and telephone number of the offeror;
(4)  A technical description of the items being offered in sufficient detail to evaluate compliance with the requirements in the solicitation.
(5)  Terms of any express warranty
(6)  Price and any discount terms
(8)  A completed copy of the representations and certifications at FAR52.212
(9)  Acknowledgment of Solicitation Amendments;
(10) Past performance information
(11)    If the offer is not submitted on the SF1449, include a statement specifying the extent of agreement with all terms, conditions, and provisions included in the solicitation.

(c)   Period of acceptance of offers.  The offeror agrees to hold the prices in its offer firm for 30 calendar days from  the date specified for receipt of offers.

Volume I – Technical Proposal

This volume must not contain any reference to price; however, resource information (such as data concerning labor hours and categories, materials, subcontracts, etc.) must be contained in the technical proposals or that the Contractor’s understanding of the requirements may be evaluated.

This volume shall consist of the sections described below.

1.0   Section 1 – Transmittal Letter

A letter that formally transmits the proposal and states in general terms how the offeror meets the solicitation requirements. (not to exceed 2 pages)

2.0   Section 2 – Executive Summary and Table of Contents

In this section, the offer will be summarized, highlighting salient features of the proposal, including a description of the offeror’s approach and plans to satisfy and support requirements of this solicitation. Any technical and schedule risks should also be detailed. The summary should indicate the offeror’s complete acceptance of the technical requirements or specify any exceptions. A clear table of contents with page numbers referenced should be included. (not to exceed 5 pages)

3.0    Section 3 – Technical Approach

The technical approach should be in as much detail as the offeror considers necessary to fully explain the proposed technical approach or method and must demonstrate a clear and concise presentation that includes, but is not limited to, the requirement of the technical proposal instructions. The Technical Proposal shall be tabbed as indicated below and each tab shall not exceed the maximum page limit identified after the title of each tab. The Technical Proposal should reflect a clear understanding of the nature of the work being undertaken. The technical approach should discuss any perceived areas of risk and risk management. If subcontractors are to be utilized, the offeror shall submit the same information pertaining to the subcontractors.

The offeror should state all assumptions, exceptions, and deviations at the end of this section. For every instance where the offeror does not propose to comply with or agree to a requirement, the offeror shall propose an alternative and describe its reasoning therefore.

For requirements that describe a mandatory feature, the response may consist of a reference to the offeror’s technical literature. Any technical literature used as a reference must be furnished as an attachment to the proposal. If the reference contains the required technical detail, it is not necessary to restate such detail in the proposal itself. All references must clearly identify the volume, page and line number of the referenced material. For requirements that describe an optional feature or function, the offeror must provide a response on how this optional requirement is to be satisfied.

Elaborate brochures, binders and the like are neither required nor desired. Legibility, clarity and completeness are important. The submission of brochures or flyers alone without an accompanying explanation specific to this proposal is not acceptable.

Page limits have been established for each tab. If the offeror includes more pages than are allowed, all pages that exceed the page limit will be removed from the proposal prior to the evaluation.

4.0     Tab A: Corporate Experience and Assessment Methodologies (not to exceed 5 pages)

The offeror shall provide a detailed description of their experience, qualifications, and technical knowledge, as it pertains to the requirements outlined in the solicitation. This should detail the number of years of experience in providing polygraph services, any major accomplishments, and how they can contribute to CBP.

4.1     Description of Experience, Qualifications, And Technical Knowledge

5.0     TAB B: Polygraph Examination Processes, Methodologies, and Quality Assurance (not exceed 20 pages)

The offeror shall fully-describe their polygraph examinations process. This should completely outline all steps and processes for the Law Enforcement Pre-Employment Test (LEPET) polygraph examination format. This should outline all pre-test preparations, the polygraph exam, any other additional procedures, and correspondence measures with CBP.

The offeror shall describe their methodology to ensure quality polygraph examinations. Details need to be provided that clearly explain their processes, methodologies, strengths, and how it contributes maintaining our timelines for delivery.

5.1         The Law Enforcement Pre-Employment Test (LEPET) Polygraph Process

5.1.1      Pre-test preparations

 5.1.2     The Polygraph Exam, Additional Procedures, and Correspondence Measures

 5.1.3     Methodology to Ensure Quality Polygraph Examinations

 6.0        Tab C:  Facility Resources:

6.1          Detailed Description of Current Facility Resources/Locations

6.1.1      Details on the Number of Polygraph Rooms and Total Square Footage

6.1.2     Additional Facility Locations to Meet Capacity

6.1.3     Steps for Procuring Additional Facilities

6.1.4     Resources/Locations and the Anticipated Timeline

7.0         Tab D: Equipment Resources and Training (not to exceed 15 pages; process flows and screen shots can be included in a separate appendix and are not included in the page limit)

7.1         Detailed Description of Their Current Equipment Resources

7.1.1     Meeting DHS CBP’s Requirements for Conducting Polygraph Examinations

7.1.2     Staff’s Experience using Software and Equipment.

7.2         Steps for Procuring Additional Equipment to Meet An Increased Capacity

7.2.1     Procurement Timeline

7.3         Training Program

7.3.1     Timeline to Complete Training

8.0         Tab E:  Staffing Representation and Training: (not to exceed 15 pages)

The offeror shall provide the extent of their current polygraph examination workforce and their ability to provide qualified candidates that will be utilized for purposes of this contract.

8.1         Our Polygraph Examination Workforce and Ability to Provide Qualified Candidates

Name Current Certification Years of Experience Time Away to Maintain Certification

Figure 8.3-1. Polygraph Examiners Current Certification(s) and Experience

8.1.1        Anticipated Number of Examiners and Estimated Yearly Workload to Meet Contract Requirements

8.1.2        Recruitment strategy for increased capacity

8.1.3        Recruitment timeline

9.0            Tab F:  Approach to Security Requirements (not to exceed 10 pages)

Provide a detailed description of the approach to maintaining all security requirements related to this contract.

10.0        Tab G: Communication (not to exceed 5 pages; process flows and screen shots can be included in a separate appendix and are not included in the page limit)
******************************************

Once you have your outlines completed, double check to ensure you capture all the proposal requirement.  For the most part, try to ensure the outline is easy for a Government evaluator to follow; if you follow the evaluation criteria it will make the evaluator’s job easier.

Here’s to writing your first Government proposal … and a win!

With Love and Respect,

Gary

What does it Mean to be an Entrepreneur?

I truly believe that each of us, regardless of our past or background, have the capacity to enhance our lives for the better.  The spark that can propel us into richer and fuller versions of ourselves is perspective.  The simple act of changing how we view the world.  When we can be truly present and look about the world and see the beauty and bounty available,  ignoring rather than listening to the chattering negative voice inside our head, we suddenly change from a place of comparison and criticism to one of gratitude.

When life’s daily toll has removed the shine and wonder from our eyes, it is hard to refocus and see through the mental haze  thrust upon us through the sometimes hurtful actions of the unconscious,  culture, societal roles, and a media that praises appearance and material possession as the way to self fulfillment and happiness.  I believe that when we work  toward achieving goals that we set using our own internal compass, we change our lives from simply existing to living dynamic lives where passion grows and thrives.

This is what I love about being an entrepreneur.  The ability to set my own life’s direction based on my values and how I view success.  The very concept of success changes.  Since starting my business, I become excited when small victories are made — the first website, the first proposal, the first win.  I see my dreams begin to take shape and to me, this is success.  I am more fulfilled, confident, and happy as a result.

When we decide to take responsibility for our own lives, as if by magic, ideas begin to appear more frequently and for the first time, perhaps in years, we begin to see the true possibilities of our potential.  With a new clarity we understand that we do not have to be limited by the narrative of what success “should” look like.

Here is to us — for living rather than existing and complying to others idea of who we are, how we should behave, and what our limits should be — the deciding factor is ourselves!

So let’s launch that new business and make the decision to live with determination and persistence and the knowledge that passion is created from doing what comes from within us.  We can do this.

Here’s to being entrepreneurs and taking action toward our goals each and every day!

With Love and Respect,

Gary

 

The Facility Clearance and Classified Cage Code Process

In a previous post, I explained how a business is sponsored to obtain an Facility Clearance (FCL) http://wp.me/p4xkC1-1t.  However, this is just the first step in completing your FCL.

After you have been issued a DD Form 254 by the Government or a prime company with a classified contract, you will need to apply for a FCL through the Defense Security Service (DSS). http://www.dss.mil/

So what the heck is an FCL anyway?  The FCL is an administrative determination that a facility is eligible for access to classified information. This can be at the Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret level. It does not necessary mean that you are holding classified material at the facility.  There are two types of FCLs.  One is for safeguarding (possessing facility) which means you actually hold classified material at your facility; the other is a no safeguarding (non-possessing) facility which does not hold classified material.

While we are at it, the facility can be a place of business or in a home if that is where your business operates from!  Yes, your home office can possess a TS facility clearance.

To request the FCL, you will use the DSS portal. The eFCL Submission Site was developed for contractors to submit facility clearance applications https://submission.dssfcl.anl.gov/dsssub/uframe.page#%2Fuser%2Fv%3Adashboard

There are several documents (eFCL submission package) you will need to complete and upload to the eFCL portal.

  • A Department of Defense Security Agreement (DD Form 441)
  • A Key Personnel Management List (KMPL) [This is a list of officers in your company]
  • A Certificate Pertaining to Foreign Interests (SF-328)
  • A list of classified contracts your company holds
  • A company organizational chart
  • Other required documents as required

As part of the process, you will be assigned a DSS Industrial Security Representative (ISR) to help guide you through the submission process.  They will also visit your facility to ensure you have the proper documentation and if you are authorized to hold classified material the necessary safeguards are in place.

You will also need or have someone in your company complete training as a Facility Security Officer (FSO).  To obtain training you can register at the Security Professional Education and Development (SPed) portal.  There are different training requirements depending on the type of facility — whether safeguarding and a no safeguarding facility.  You can register at: http://www.cdse.edu/index.html

The time the entire process takes depends on whether the key personnel already possess the proper clearances.  If not, then they will need to submit an application for clearance SF-86.

DSS offers a comprehensive users guide to walk you through the process.  This link will download the guide: http://www.dss.mil/documents/diss/efcl-submission-site-user-guide.pdf

Once you have been approved by DSS, you can then apply for Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) access.  This allows you to hold clearances for the personnel working on classified contracts, request investigations and reinvestigation, submit visit requests, and other administrative details associated with cleared personnel.  This also requires you to complete your FSO training and other training before access will be completed.  You can request account here: https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/psawebdocs/docPage.jsp?p=JPAS

The entire FLC process can be lengthy and time consuming.  There are companies that can guide you through the process.  Whetstone Security www.whetstonesecurity.com is one of those companies in the Washington DC area that can help (Full disclosure – I am a partner), but there are others with qualified personnel that can assist you also.

Here’s to your success!

With Love and Respect,

Gary