How Security Clearances Work

People often ask the question: “How do I get a security clearance? Or how can my business get one?”


My first response is market yourself. There’s nothing you can do about getting a clearance until somebody sees value in your product or your service and sponsors the business for a security clearance.


Value is simply someone who has a tangible need for a particular product or service and they want to put you on contract already classified contract to be able to use your products or services.


There are many jobs that require security clearance or services and some of those jobs include janitorial services, engineering services, secretarial, you name it. There are many opportunities out there to get a security clearance. However, one cannot just get a security clearance in preparation for the work. The work offer comes first.


The first step is to be sponsored by a federal government entity, a government contracting agency (GCA) or an another contract or defense contract. Once a business entity has established a need, then they can be sponsored for a security clearance.


Government contractors are awarded classified contracts as part of doing business


A few years back, I was on a radio television radio talk show and I really didn’t get to say too much because the talk show hosts went on and on about their surprise that the government allowed businesses to have security clearances and work on classified work and their opinion. In their opinion, there was no oversight and it was irresponsible to allow anybody other than a government entity to have classified information.


I spoke as much as I could on the topic but I was shouted down. There was no use in trying to address the irrational thought there, but I just wanted to let you know that yes civilian employees and civilian business entities can have a security clearance.


The way it works is the GCA, which is a federal government agency such as the department of defense or department of energy. They will have a contractual need to acquire services or products from contractors. But let’s go back real quick. The GCA is a designated original classification authority, which means they are capable of classifying information. At the highest level, the U.S. President is the original classification authority. However, the president of the United States does not go through an investigation process. By their position they get to enjoy the benefits of having a clearance so they can do their job as president.


They delegate their OCA responsibility to the department of defense, department of energy, CIA, FBI, all these other government organizations. The government organizations are the ones who deem what is classified. Contractors or civilian organizations do not do that. They are what is called derivative classification authorities. They can only use and produce things that are already classified.


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