What is a SCIF?
A SCIF is a U.S. government–accredited facility where Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) can be stored, discussed or electronically processed. Primarily government and government-related contractors that require high security have the need for SCIFs.
There are other spaces also used to process, store and discuss classified information such as Special Access Program Facilities (SAPF) and Open Storage Areas, formally known as Closed Areas (NISPOM). To learn more about other types of specialized/secure facilities, read more below.
Alarms & Access
Minimum Requirements for SCIFs
Defined in Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 705/ IC Technical Specification
The directive describes many specialized construction requirements with the intention to ensure that high-security features are built into the facility beyond those achieved by typical commercial construction.
For example, all perimeter surfaces (walls, ceilings and floor) are to be constructed so that they will reveal evidence of unauthorized entry or tampering.
Each Program Has Its Own Performance Requirements
Depending on each project’s individual performance requirements, additional materials may be required for construction, such as radiant barrier foil, physical perimeter hardening by use of expanded metal with heavier gauge metal studs, as well as additional protective acoustical features to prevent eavesdropping and collection of audio intelligence emanating from the SCIF.
Read more about the specialized standards for SCIF construction here.
A Few Factors that Need to be Considered
While there are standard requirements for any SCIF, each project will also have protective measures that are determined by factors such as the facility’s location, security in depth (SID), inspectable space, program requirements, “Open” or “Closed” storage and TEMPEST considerations.
These are only a few of the factors that can determine what specific protective measures may be required.
Selecting a Properly Qualified Design/Build Firm is Imperative
Additionally, there are various construction methods of achieving the proper protective measures required and the various methods can have a substantial cost impact on the project. It is most beneficial in terms of both time and money to ensure that the designer of a SCIF has substantial experience with the different potential requirement scenarios and that the contractor building the facility has had enough experience to avoid common assumptions that standard commercial contractors, without a lot of SCIF experience, would typically make. The most optimum solution is to select a properly qualified design/build firm.
Other Types of Secure Facilities
SCI Facilities are not the only types of secure environments that are required to protect classified or sensitive information. Information or discussions that are classified at the SECRET level may only require a CLOSED area. If you have the need for Radio Frequency shielding, you may need to work inside of an RF Enclosure or screen room.
You may have sensitive or proprietary information that needs to be kept controlled, or your facility may need to have access control added depending on different levels of program access.