October is Security Awareness Month, and because all Department of the Army personnel are required to have some type of background check and are responsible for safeguarding information, now is a good time to remind everyone of some key points with regard to personnel and information security.
When it comes to personnel security, most people are already aware that there are different classification levels: unclassified, confidential, secret and top secret. But once you are granted a clearance, do you know how long it is good for? Does someone call you and tell you that your clearance is expired?
All military personnel are given a national agency check with law and credit investigation. With a NACLC, military personnel are then eligible to be granted up to a secret-level clearance. Civilian personnel are either given a national agency check with investigative inquires — if they don’t need a clearance — or an access national agency check plus written inquiries and credit check — if they need up to a secret-level clearance.
In order to be given access to top secret, a single scoped background investigation is done. Secret clearances are good for 10 years and top secret clearances for five years from the date the Office of Personnel Management closes the investigation, not the date that central clearance facility grants the clearance.
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During this 10 or five-year period, personnel are then granted access based on a “need to know” basis by the local command. So, just because a person has a clearance does not automatically mean that he or she is granted the access or is allowed to handle any and all types of classified information. Although security managers do monitor clearance levels, ultimately, it is an individual’s responsibility to know when his or her clearance will expire and ensure that the process is started within 30 days of expiration.
The Information Security Program primarily pertains to classified national security information, controlled unclassified information including the use of for official use only, and sensitive but unclassified information.
AR 380-5, Department of the Army Information Security Program, covers classification, downgrading, declassification, transmission, transportation and safeguarding of information. Its main purpose is to provide guidance when handling documents which require protection that affects our national security.
It is important for organizations to know that in order to have access to classified documents, the appropriate clearance, access granted by the local command and a “need to know” for that information is required. If there is a need to transport classified information even within the post, personnel are reminded that courier cards are a requirement. Your security manager can also provide other guidelines required for transporting documents.