Will you be affected by the phase-out of older GSA-approved containers?
All Black Label General Services Administration (GSA) approved containers will have to be phased out and replaced through a plan that will span four years starting in 2024. Black Label containers are cabinets and vault doors manufactured from 1954 to 1989. The phase-out will begin with the oldest of these containers. Class 2 Black Label containers will have to be replaced by October 1, 2024, Class 3 and 4 by October 1, 2025, and Class 1, 5 and 6 by October 1, 2028.
This replacement order will affect tens of thousands of containers. Replacement containers will range in price from $3,500 to $12,000 depending on factors like the number of drawers. Large facilities could have as many as 1,000 containers that they’ll need to replace.
There are a number of reasons for the GSA issuing this replacement order. Some of the parts on the older safes, like the drawer slides, may be deteriorated. There are some security concerns including old combination locks. Replacement parts for these containers are more difficult to obtain because some of the manufacturers no longer exist.
Replacing safes isn’t as simple as ordering other products. You have to take into account lead time and have a plan for transferring the classified materials from the old container to the new one.
“The first step would be identifying how many containers they have within their organization,” advises Travis Easter from KL Security. “[Take] a tiered approach replacing them, because we can’t remove all safes at the same time. Obviously, we still need to be able to house material.” Facilities with a lot of containers will especially want to consider this approach and prioritize ones with closer upcoming replacement deadlines. This will allow you to still have plenty of space to store your classified information during the replacement.
When ordering your new Red Label containers, be sure to allow for a minimum of 90 days for them to arrive, Easter says. Lead times are currently affected by the global supply chain issues and shipping delays, so it’s better to plan ahead and give yourself as much time as possible to get your new containers. Your facility’s custodian for classified information will need to be on site to direct the movement of classified materials from one container to another.
There has been one other instance of the GSA issuing a replacement order, which happened in 2012 with lock-bar containers, but these replacement orders are not a common occurrence, Easter says.
Generally, GSA-approved containers won’t need to be replaced due to age. The locking mechanism is the most likely part of the container to fail, but replacement parts are available, and new lock replacements are released every couple of years. “General reliability of the containers is not an issue. Many of them have been in the field operating for 30, 40 years, so I wouldn’t necessarily concern myself with replacing anything that is a Red Label container unless they’re having issues,” Easter says.
If you want help overseeing classified information in your cleared facility or other duties you hold as a Facility Security Officer (FSO), Adamo can help. Reach out to our experts and see how our team can support you and help ease the stress of your FSO responsibilities.