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Leasing a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF)

Updated: Jun 7

It is the proverbial “Chicken or the Egg” scenario…The RFP (Request for Proposal) you want to pursue requires a SCIF.  You may be a small company that doesn’t have a DD254 yet (form justifying contractual use of a SCIF), a medium size company that lacks a DD254 that specifies TS/SCI, or a large company with a SCIF with no square footage to spare and having to justify the expenditure of expanding or relocating to a larger space.  These issues are faced by companies nationwide every week and the calls we receive inevitably boil down to the same question: “How is it fair that the customer expects a qualified company to pursue this RFP without already having secure space to begin with?”

"Office space for lease" board

While there are always exceptions, the answer usually boils down to a few common actions as follows:

  • Read the RFP carefully…Often the customer understands that respondents may not already have secure facilities in place and will make provisions for this by stating the respondent would need to have facilities constructed within a certain period of time “post award,” or will specifically ask for a plan/cost for this to occur be included in the RFP response.

  • Depending on the respondent, this could mean several different actions, from speaking with your existing property management about expansion of your existing space, finding space within your facility, or in the same geographic area.  Often, there is a requirement to be within a certain geographic distance of the client for the work to be performed and you may not have much choice in the matter

  • Another method is to reach out to business partnerships you may have that already possess SCIF space.  Especially with larger companies, they often have existing SCIF lease space that is underutilized and may jump at the opportunity to sublease to you in order to reduce their costs, which may also create other business partnership synergies attractive to the customer.  If you go this route, keep in mind your business partner may need to seek approval for a “Co-use” agreement with the SCIF sponsor prior to committing to a sublease agreement with you.  Post award, this sponsor will need to verify you have an approved TS/SCI DD254 form as well, but this is one of the fastest methods (unless you already have usable SCIF space) for implementing contract requirements

  • If you don’t have any existing commercial space, you may need to contact a leasing agent who could show you tenant spaces that meets the needs of the RFP.  In some cases you may be able to lock in a contract for the space “contingent to award” and then acquire a “ROM” (Rough Order of Magnitude) from a SCIF builder and submit these documents as part of your RFP response on cost projections.  Keep in mind your response on cost should be comprehensive and should include other costs, such as IT systems infrastructure, etc. as well

Beware of leasing agents who try to show you “turnkey” space!  This may or may not be the case, but potential tenants gravitate to this because they believe it will save them on cost.  It is actually quite rare to find space like this because policy requires secure space to be officially “de-accredited” following its contractual use and unless the space has been protected from that point minimally at the SECRET level with documentation, an AO (Accrediting Official) will be concerned about vulnerabilities.  It is also generally true that changes in ICD 705 policy may mean significant construction is necessary (costs the leasing agent may not be aware of due to their lack of 705 expertise) and it may actually save you money to consider a new build with a “cold dark shell” at a better location instead.  Finally, a major red flag is if a leasing agent shows you literature advertising “SCIF space” with floor plans clearly designating the boundaries and location of the SCIF area and is advertising this space in the public domain.  Most leasing agents are trying to sell the space and aren’t taking into account that their actions are actually eliminating potential customers who understand the security implications behind these disclosures in the public arena.  Having the word “SCIF” or “SAPF” on any plan or drawing is a major violation of ICD 705 policy requiring “protection of plans and documents.”

Lease agreement contract

SPG receives calls on a weekly basis to review and compare existing commercial tenant spaces and provides ROM estimates for clients pursuing RFPs.  We can lend our expertise and “partner” with you to ensure you find the best “policy compliant” solution for the greatest value.  We also have close working relationships with leasing agents who understand this process and can help get you started in moving forward in meeting these very challenging requirements.

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