Roadmap To Getting a Facility Clearance (FCL)

As part of the Department of Defense Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) and the Defense Small Business Webinar Series, “Roadmap to Getting a Facility Clearance” was presented on June 24, 2020 by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA). This webinar provided small business tips and guidance to prepare small businesses for entry into the cleared defense marketplace.

The National Industrial Security Program (NISP) is made up of 12,000 facilities which 65% of those are small businesses. A facility clearance is not just a simple check in the box, its building a security program to ensure the nation’s competitive edge is preserved – it may be one barrier between you and your next contract.

What is a Facility Clearance? A Facility Clearance (FCL) is an administrative determination done by extensive vetting that a company is eligible for access to classified information. The FCL process requires Key Management Personnel (KMP) to get Personnel Clearances (PCL).

How can you get an FCL? Contractors must be sponsored by Government Contracting Agency (GCA) and have legitimate need to have access to classified materials. A contractor cannot apply for its own FCL.

What are company requirements?  Your company must need access in connection with a legitimate requirement, must be organized in the U.S., and must not be under Foreign Ownership or Controlling Interest (FOCI).

How much does an FCL cost and does it expire?  The Government funds the processing of PCLs and FCLs for access to classified information. The only cost to you is going through the process to ensure your business is in compliance with the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM). An FCL remains active until the company no longer has a need to access classified information.

What questions should you be asking for sponsorship of an FCL?

  • When is access to classified information needed – this will determine pre-award or post award sponsorship.
  • Is there a transition period and if so, how long – there must be time for the GCA to sponsor a company depending on the transition period
  • Does the work require immediate access to classified information – if the contractor can start portions of the work while they go through the process, this can impact solicitation restrictions.
  • Is this a competitive or non-competitive award – if you are contemplating a non-competitive award, there can be more flexibility on when in the acquisition process you sponsor a facility

The Pre-Award Sponsorship must have need to access classified during the bid process and must include the solicitation number, solicitation of release and close date, level of classification and copy of pre-award. The Post-Award Sponsorship must have need to access classified during performance of the contract and must include DD254, SOW/PWS and written GCA Authorization. To view the entire FCL process, go to the slides from the webinar.

Business Structure and the Required Documents:


  • Charter/Bylaws
  • Board/University Meeting Minutes
  • Legal Organization Chart

Sole Proprietorship

  • Business License
  • Fictitious Name Certificate
  • Certificate of Sole Proprietorship

Joint Ventures

  • Business type is required
  • JV Agreement
  • Meeting Minutes specific to JV

The top 5 reasons for rejection of an FCL:

  • Missing government contracting activity authorization
  • Incorrect or incomplete information on DD254
  • Lack of justification/no access to classified required
  • Solicitation with no access to classified information
  • Incorrect sponsorship request/conflicting information on sponsorship and DO254

Entire slide presentation can be found:

Facility Clearance Related Questions:
[email protected]

Small Business Office Related Questions:
[email protected]

Contact the DCSA Knowledge Center 888-282-7682 (option 3) with any FCL related questions

Visit DCSA Center for Development of Security Excellence (CDSE) at for FREE training and resources
• Facility Security Officer toolkit
• Training video

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Middletown, RI 02842
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