We’ve had many questions about classification markings and sensitive compartmented information and thought it would be a great opportunity to provide an overview of classification procedures and how classified information is marked both physically and digitally.

This article will describe how to recognize and provide proper markings for information that is classified for Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). However, instead of just providing marking guidance, I’d like to take the reader through the process and build a story that demonstrates the entire process in quick review format.

The Government Contracting Agency (GCA) is responsible for creating security classification guides to identify what is classified, what the classification level is, and how the classified information should be marked. The government is actually assigning classification levels and communicating the decisions in the classification in a Security Classification Guide (SCG), DD Form 254 Contract Security Classification Specification (SCCS), or if actually providing classified information the classification markings therein.

Cleared Defense Contractors (CDC) access the classified information, but can only repurpose the classified information into work products; not provide original classification. This repurposing is called derivative classification. On a practical level, this is an easier task in that the CDC will be using the classification markings already provided without making up a new classification. This means for documents, they will copy and paste the classification markings or print them letter for letter.

So that’s how the classification system works. For this article, let’s take a look at the definition of Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). SCI is a classification label indicating that items or information is sensitive and part of a specific program or department. The program office, or GCA determines what is SCI and identifies it with proper classification markings.

Not everyone will have access to this SCI information. It is determined based on eligibility provided adjudication of a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) and possibly a polygraph depending on the requirements.

SCI is a classification based on intelligence information that requires appropriate protection with a specific control system. The control systems are: (1) HCS (HUMINT Control System). (2) Special Intelligence (SI)). (3) TALENT KEYHOLE (TK). Of the three, if any combination is used in the classification marking. They should be listed by alphabet and a forward slash to separate them. A double forward slash separates the classification level and control markings. Here is an example, and just for demonstration purposes, suppose you have a document classified at the TOP SECRET level and it has HUMINT Control System, SI, and TK, it would like so, TOP SECRET//HUMINT/SI/TK. The portion marking would be (TS//HCS/SI/TK). See the table below for more examples.

Banner Line Portion Marking
TOP SECRET//HCS//NOFORN (TS//HCS//NF)
SECRET//SI/TK//RELIDO (S//SI/TK//RELIDO)
TOP SECRET//SI-GAMMA//ORCON/NOFORN (TS//SI-G//OC/NF)
CONFIDENTIAL//SI//REL TO USA, AUS, FRA (C//SI//REL TO USA, FRA)
TOP SECRET//SI-XXX//REL TO USA, AUS (TS//SI-XXX//REL)
SECRET//HCS-O XYZ//NOFORN (S//HCS-O XYZ//NF)
SECRET//TK-GEOCAP//NOFORN (S//TK-G//NF)
SECRET//ABC//RELIDO (S//ABC/SI//RELIDO)

Examples of SCI Control Markings for illustration purposes only

I hope this has provided some answers to the question of how is SCI marked. There are many different possibilities depending on the classification level and the program. This article should provide a good starting point to help the reader can better understand how the classification system is applied to SCI.

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Jeffrey W. Bennett is a security consultant with SFPC, SAPPC, ISOC, ISP certifications. He maintains a security blog and newsletter and is the author of many security books including DoD Security Clearance and Contracts Guidebook-What Cleared Contractors Need to Know About Their Need to Know, The Insider’s Guide to Security Clearances, and books on security certification. Visit his website www.redbikepublishing.com for more information.