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)  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).

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

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:

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:

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:

The entire FLC process can be lengthy and time consuming.  There are companies that can guide you through the process.  Whetstone Security 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,


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,