We live in a time where it’s increasingly easy to transfer goods, services, and talent between countries. COVID created complications, but the push to innovate always pushes back harder, and the reality of how much international influence is involved in the goods and services of the U.S. is one of the reasons why the government takes supply chain security seriously – and why processes like the Facility Security Clearance (FCL) are in place to ensure that companies who wish to hold classified U.S. information aren’t disclosing that information to people they shouldn’t.


The FCL process requires Key Management Personnel (KMPs) to also be cleared at the level of the security clearance. The individuals serving in those positions must maintain clearance eligibility, even if the names behind the roles change. That reality caused one government contractor to lose their FCL recently. The news reports are a reminder that when you’re looking to onboard your new CEO – you may want to check with your security officer.

International influence isn’t a non-starter when it comes to a FCL. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) provides details on how companies can mitigate or address FOCI issues in the clearance process. But FOCI is an increasingly important factor the government does consider when deciding who should get or keep an FCL – and that’s because in China’s quest to take over U.S. innovation and intellectual property, buying up shell companies is one part of the strategy. KMPs within a cleared facility need to demonstrate their willingness to protect classified information – and the ability to obtain a clearance is a part of that.

Many individuals may assume that if a country is an ally of the U.S., the FOCI issue could be mitigated. While the country’s relationship with the U.S. is a factor, it’s worth noting that foreign countries don’t all treat the classification process equally. Ireland, where the newly onboarded CEO is from, recently announced that they were taking steps to create an industrial security clearance program, because previously no formal security clearance process for contractors had existed. Japan has made similar efforts and has said 2024 is the year it plans to institutionalize a formal program to create a security clearance process. 

Country of origin does matter, but whether friend or foe, key management personnel need to be U.S. citizens. Companies with issues – and a strong desire to support U.S. national security – do have options, and DCSA will work with companies to outline the path toward an FCL.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at ClearanceJobs.com. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer