HighlightCast Episode #2 | New Generation GWACs & Security Clearances 

  • we@designindc.com
  • July 21, 2018


Announcement: Broadcasting from Fairfax, VA you are now tuned in to the highlight cast with your hosts Adam McNair and Kevin Long. 


Adam McNair: Hello, welcome to episode #2 of the highlight cast as Adam McNair, COO of Highlight Technologies, joined by Kevin Long. 


Kevin Long: VP of Delivery welcome. 


Adam McNair: So thank you for tuning in again the again the the point of this this podcast is. Trying to make sure that we can have another Ave. to communicate with our employees and share some of the insights we have on the industry. Some of the things that are happening and also just to talk about some of the challenges that that are faced by a small business and some of the. Innovative ways we’re going about tackling them. We get a lot of questions and a lot of different avenues. This is just a way for us to to uniformly talk about them. And so a couple of the the topics we’re going to address today, the 1st is multiple award contracts and government wide contracts or something that have been done for a very, very long. Time but where we are now is an interesting time in that. Kind of in generation two of several contracts there’s there’s Alliant 2. Alliant came out five or six years ago. Alliant 2 is now out now. And also GSA stars the Stars program were let several years ago. And then GSA stars 2 happened and then they. On ramped businesses, any kind of time, you have a small business vehicle, you find that a lot of the small businesses get bought. They make acquisitions, they become large businesses, so you need to refresh your small business populations. 


Kevin Long: Especially when it’s an 8A because you explicitly time out. 


Adam McNair: So exactly. Yeah. So there are there are three major vehicles that represent billions of dollars in federal contracts that are being adjudicated right now. Stars two was the first one where we saw it on ramp. 


Kevin Long: Was the start so. 


Adam McNair: And they added this says about 200 more companies to that vehicle. Then align it to small business is still in the works. I guess. Kevin, how would you describe it? I kind of in in. Stasis. Almost purgatory. Yeah, I think. It’s purgatory. You know where that is, is that they’re they’ve been awarding the different different areas. Hubs owned, veteran owned, small business, etcetera everybody protests. 


Kevin Long: Tori. 


Adam McNair: When these things happen and. 


Kevin Long: That’s a big deal not to get them so. 


Adam McNair: It really is, I mean company. Things can’t have formed themselves at times in time stage, so they know that when they when these open seasons on these vehicles are going to come around it it, it can be the way that you you direct and guide your company for five or ten years on some of these vehicles. 


Kevin Long: Absolutely. And then CIO SP. 


Adam McNair: Three, yes. And then CSP 3. So that’s the third iteration of of that contract. Now we talk about protests the way they used to do these vehicles is you were just trying to explain why you were good and one versus 21 versus three, one versus 5. That’s hard enough, you get 800 or 1000 bidders. 


Kevin Long: Especially when all of the proposals say no, I’m really good. My current customers love me. Trust me, it’s great. 


Adam McNair: Yeah. And the the challenge also is. Separating 1 from 2 is hard. Drawing the dividing line between company #350 and company #351 becomes very, very difficult when it’s a subjective process, and so something that that these agencies have gone to in in recent years. Is they do a self scored? Process can you want to kind? Of summarize how that works? 


Kevin Long: Sure, they’ll give you different criteria. You know, where have you done this type of work before? One point, if you’ve done it as a prime at a certain. Scale two points. If you’ve done it a bunch of different places, you know each time it’s a little bit different, but you go through and look at you and your teams history and give yourself a score based on the different statement of work areas that you’ve done. And so you get to go through and decide just how, how relevant your your work and your past performance. Is to the work that’s going to be out on that vehicle and it gives you at least. At least I hope it would give you a good idea of of how well you’re going to score in to whether or not you’d whether it be worth your worth your time to even submit to it. So yeah, it’s a it’s great because it’s a quantitative, not qualitative. 


Adam McNair: Yeah. And it’s it’s nice for a lot of different reasons. There’s there’s one aspect that. It saves you. The work and time as a company if. You know that you’re not in the running a lot of times they will say you must have at least 6000 out of 10,000 points to be considered eligible for award. It means you don’t waste your time if you don’t line up against the requirements that they’ve laid out. The other thing it does make protests much, much quicker to adjudicate because what you what the argument becomes around is we think we should get 500 points in this area because we believe we showed 5 projects that were delivering at the CMMI Level 3. Standard and you didn’t give us the full points for it. It becomes a much more tangible kind of discussion. And so we’ve been seeing the government go through the protests on those a lot. Yes, that stars took a while, Lance small business is still going through it and stars are still going through it. But if they’re happening much and getting dismissed much quicker than ordinary. 


Kevin Long: Yeah, it’s and SEC one OIT totally picked up that same numeric vibe and they were very industry days. They were talking literally about hey, if you have these scores, we’re going to give you the minimum. We’re not going to tell you not to bid, but. Seriously guys, there’s a minimum and it just made it. Well, it didn’t make it easier, but I would like to think that for all of the people adjudicating it and deciding who’s going to get the awards, you know, it it, it gives, it gives them something to stand on and. Says. You did this. You didn’t do this. Here are your points. Thank you for playing. 


Adam McNair: Yeah. And it’s interesting the, the, the first one of those that I was exposed to was the GSA Oasis procurement. They’re their first one. I believe they’re an Oasis to at this point, but. The way that went is they they had working groups and they worked with collaboratively with industry and they talked about what are the challenges of responding to this kind of a a blanket procurement and you know, unknown quantity, it’s very hard to say. Let me tell you how I would do. This collection of work that you’re not really sure what it is or how much of it is, or what technologies you need or when you need it. 


Kevin Long: Or what will be needed in five or ten years when this vehicle still in use? 


Adam McNair: Exactly. And so when when they when they put Oasis out eventually. It was. It was interesting for me to go through from having been in some of those planning working sessions where they talked about it and I honestly I felt like it was probably too much of A departure from the way the government had always procured things. I I was expecting them to try to incorporate that a little bit, but but not really go all the way to just a. The numerically scored solution and. They did, and the instructions were. You cannot write anything. Approach related. All you can do is take excerpts from statements of work that you have. That’s how you prove you’ve done these things, and now I was at CCI at the time and you knew you must have it somewhere in the company, but you had to find the. 


Kevin Long: Can you find it? 


Adam McNair: Statement of work and it was. Was hard for different reasons, but at least you knew how it was going and and when somebody would say how. How are we doing on that bid? Like what? We’re at 13,000 out of 16,000 points so far and we’re still working as opposed to doing fine going, going pretty well. 


Kevin Long: I think we’ve got an approach. 


Adam McNair: Yeah, yeah. So it it did feel different and. 


Kevin Long: Well, and it’s perfect where if it’s an IDIQ where they’re going to not know what. Task orders are going to come out. What the needs are going to be. They just the purpose isn’t to come up with a great solution. Architect. It’s to come up with companies that have proven performance to be able to do that kind of work. And then in the task orders, make them come up with the innovative ideas. It’s prove that you can’t. That you’re worth talking to in the future. 


Adam McNair: Yeah. So I I, I I really like the the trend that is happening with those ID IQ’s, those are vehicles have done and Oasis has done it. Seaport was essentially the same type of thing out of the Navy. Some of the multiple word contracts Navy has been putting out, they’ve been using the same model. I went to an industry day in Pax River about a year ago when they were gearing up for one of their multiple word contracts and they were very transparent about. It was kind of refreshing. They said we don’t usually do these kinds of multiple. Forward contracts, but we know the ones we’ve done in the past haven’t worked out that well. So we called GSA and asked them how they do these. And they sent us the scoring matrix that they had used on a previous one and talked us through it. And we think we’re going to do this one. 


Kevin Long: Wow. 


Adam McNair: That way. That’s great. And and it was interesting because that was a packed room. There must have been 250 companies there. There was a lot of pushback because they weren’t going to end up being able to be compliant. It wasn’t just. I spent X number of years in the Navy. I know these programs. I can write about these things. It was. We don’t actually have six programs. We’ve done that. Before. 


Kevin Long: Yeah, and it it it’s interesting because it shifts the burden from, you know, traditional solution architect where you’re coming up with an approach. You’re coming up with with a way to solve a particular problem to an administrative problem. Where can you find your past performance? Have you done this work? Do you have the statement of statements of work? Available to be able to extract and you know. Do you have the manpower to scroll through the 500 page statement of work that was issued and on your contract so that you can pull it out and put put it into this, but it’s great because you just look at it and quantitatively you know pretty quickly. Look at it and you can tell is it worth your time? And you just don’t get that in sort of a standard solution based when you’re actually bidding, you know, I’ll call it a real program as opposed to an ID IQ. I just love the predictability of it. 


Adam McNair: And that’s something that will continue to watch. And I think it will be interesting see how that develops over the next couple of months as they adjudicate the remainder of the protests and hopefully we see Alliant 2 small business, all of the on ramp companies be active. We see the CSP 3 on ramp companies be active and. 


Kevin Long: I just wish it would speed the the acquisition process of actually getting it awarded and and resolving the protests. 


Adam McNair: Yeah. And, you know, protests are probably another topic that we can could delve into one of these days. But to your point earlier, there are companies that have planned for five or ten years. That this was going to be a linchpin of their company so. Any protest you read it always at some level sounds like, oh, this is just sour grapes. These these, these folks lost and they don’t want to give it up, but. It it is a really big deal, not not winning. One of these is a really, really big deal and we’ve seen there have been acquisitions that have been $100 million, acquisitions of companies in the past just because they had a. Vehicle that you. 


Kevin Long: Need. 


Adam McNair: Needed to get and you needed to get and I’ve seen large businesses make acquisitions just because they said, hey, look for. Our market space, if we don’t have vehicle X, it’s a major problem for us and they make an acquisition that’s around nothing but that vehicle. So the other topic I thought we might address. Day. You know, if we go out and do employee events, we do employee lunches, do a lot of you know, interviewing. And I’ve had several questions over the last couple of weeks that were centered around security clearances. 


Kevin Long: The dark arts. 


Adam McNair: Right. Can I get one? Can you hold my clearance? Do I have the right clearance for this program? 


Kevin Long: How long will it take? What’s the difference between HSPD 12 standard agency check secret top secret? Polygraph, did they talk to my dog? Yeah, it’s crazy. 


Adam McNair: Right. So the first one was a question I get a lot is how long does it take to  

get a clearance? So, Kevin, how long does it take me to get? A clearance. 


Kevin Long: It takes as long as it takes. It takes as long as it takes, but it’ll take longer if you travel a lot out of the country. It takes longer if. If you don’t pay your bills, it takes longer. If you have a lot of foreign contacts, it takes longer. If you’ve moved a lot, but it takes even longer if you don’t submit. Your SF 80. 


Adam McNair: 6 on time? Yeah, that’s a really good point. I would tell you that that I it is amazing to me when. People are going in for the clearance process and the SF 86 is the big form. You have to fill out of basically every place you’ve ever lived, every job you’ve ever had, all of your relatives, and answer a whole bunch of questions about behavior and things. They simply don’t fill it out and turn it in in a timely fashion, right? If you wait three to four months before you fill your your paperwork out and submit it. 


Kevin Long: Nothing starts till they get that piece. Of paper or that. 


Adam McNair: The clock hasn’t started yet. That’s exactly right. 


Kevin Long: 120 sheets of paper. 


Adam McNair: That’s a big piece of it is. You should be able to think about the complexity of your application and decide if you think that that feels like it’s going to take a long time or. Not a long. Time. A lot of times people that are directly out of college are the shortest ones you’ll get, they’ve. Lived at their parents house and an address in college. They’ve had one job. They haven’t traveled internationally. They don’t have any international friends. They kind of have nothing to declare. They don’t have much of A credit history. They don’t have any of those things. So it’s pretty much a agency check. They make sure there’s no warrants for you. And and if you just going for something like a secret or. A public trust. It’s only nine months, yes. 


Kevin Long: Yeah, that’s. 


Adam McNair: It’ll it’ll and it and it. It varies from agency to agency and. 


Kevin Long: Ohh. 


Adam McNair: Doesn’t necessarily the level of clearance and how long it? Is are not necessarily directly directly related. I’ve seen things at civilian agencies that have no classified information take six or seven months and you’re trying to get somebody in the Pentagon and it happens to come back in two months. That can happen. You can kind of just look at how complex does my information appear to be? And that’s probably a good benchmark for. 


Kevin Long: Absolutely. 


Adam McNair: About how long it will take. Now that’s aside from sometimes things get lost sometimes if you’re trying to get in touch with your Rep. Frances, if they don’t get back to them, that will delay the process, but the investigators are are. Under service level agreements back to the government that they need to be processing cases quickly, so once they start working on it, it usually moves pretty quick. It’s just getting through that backlog. 


Kevin Long: Yeah. And if they find if they find something that they need to ask another question about, they just keep asking the questions until they feel good about the answer and they keep going or they don’t feel good about the answer and. 


Adam McNair: Then no clearance. Another question I get is, will my clearance transfer? Yeah. And let me ask you, Kevin, so I’ve I’ve got a clearance at a government agency and I see that you got a job open. And well, my clearance transfer. 


Kevin Long: If you need to have that clearance to have the job. 


Adam McNair: Probably. And the timeline for transferring it. It varies widely. You know, I’ve seen a lot of different agencies. Department of Defense is particularly good at accepting all of the clearances inside of their organizations. And if you have a secret clearance from anybody, you come in and they say you have a secret clearance, why would we redo this? A lot of independent civilian agencies are the ones that say, oh, you have a top secret with Department of Defense that lets us skip one step in our 45 step process. We still have to repeat all of these other things. Another variable in that process is when were you last reinvestigated a lot of agencies. 


Kevin Long: Absolutely. Oh yeah. 


Adam McNair: Have seen if you were reinvestigated recently or your clearance is kind of new, they figured well, they just looked at all this stuff. We don’t have to look at it whereas. If it was done a year ago two years ago, 3-4 five years ago, they may reinvestigate. 



Kevin Long: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, yeah, especially because the secret is good for 1010 years. So at that point, if you’re, if you’re seven or eight years in reciprocity, whether or not they should accept it, they’re not always necessarily going to. If you were just reinvestigated or investigated the first time last year. Yeah. For anything at the same level or below. I’ve never seen it rejected. I’ve just seen it take a long time. 


Adam McNair: Another question I get asked is what information you know what? What prep work can I be doing before I fill out my SF 86? 


Kevin Long: Know everywhere you’ve lived. The only way I knew that when I first filled it out is that I never delete an address from Amazon. So. Yeah, so everywhere you’ve lived for the last 7 to 10 years, every time you’ve left the country, all of your parents and in laws, their dates of birth, where they were born, their security numbers, that information for you. If you’re a man, selective service draft number. Any bills that are are overdue by at least 90 days if they’ve ever been. Overdue by 90 days in that period of time. What else do they want? Siblings. Foreign contacts. You know, anybody that you’re particularly close to that isn’t American citizen? They want to know who they. Are a lot of. 


Adam McNair: I know. That data it’s. A bunch of stuff that the data probably says like. Of course I would have that. 


Kevin Long: Nope. 


Adam McNair: You think you do until you have to write it down, and when you look at the instructions. As please list every place you’ve lived in the last 10 years with no gaps. 


Kevin Long: And someone who knew you when you lived there don’t have repeats. 


Adam McNair: And so it it again. That’s one of those areas where it kind of depends on what your profile is at that point. If you’ve lived in the same house. For the last 10 years, that section just took you 30 seconds and you’re done. If you were in college, then back at your parents and then in college and back at your parents and in college and back at your parents. And then you spent the summer in Cape Cod one time, and then you had four different apartments in this area. Guess what? That’s 15 or 20 different entries. You might remember that you had an apartment in in Arlington. Do you remember what the actual address was? And do you remember anybody that knew you when you were there? And do you have contact info for them? If that was six years ago? Those are the areas where you start to realize, oh, this is harder than I thought. And I think that’s probably where people get sidetracked and they say ohh, that’s right. I, that guy that lived across the street, the hallway from me. I think my friend so and so knows him. I gotta remember to call them and then all of a sudden it’s a month. 


Adam McNair: Later and they haven’t completed their paperwork. 


Kevin Long: Or or. What job did you have 10 years ago? I mean, I know when I’ve filled mine out in the past, companies I’ve worked for don’t exist anymore, right? I mean, so how? How do you, how do you know they don’t exist? How do you provide contact information for that? They still ask the question. It takes time. It it was a. It is a no joke. Exercise, which is why you should also save your review copy, put it in your in your safe deposit box. You’ll you’ll. You’ll be happy that you have it when you. 


Adam McNair: Fill it out again. Yeah, because there are things like vacations and the dates that you were out of the country because the kinds of things that that are very, very easy that come up. And this is a data-driven exercise. If your passport was stamped. They know when that got stamped. So if you estimate. Like I think I went to Italy for my cousins wedding in August. And it wasn’t August. You just thought it was. That’s now a discrepancy that they have to track down. The more of those things that don’t match up, they know when you work someplace because they can. They can see it on your tax records. All of those kinds of things. The more accurate you are, the less because you’re not trying to hide anything. It’s just. I don’t remember what month I worked for. Whatever company and 15 years ago. 


Kevin Long: And the longer it will be your person, the longer your personal interview will be too, because they’re going to go through every single item through all. 120 pages of of your life, and that’s that’s not a particularly interesting SF 86 at that length and they will ask you about every single. Thing on it. 


Adam McNair: The question that that again is. Can I get a clearance? And I think the answer to that is if the job you’re going into requires 1. Sure we can get you one and then it begs that question. But if I want to work on a cleared program but I don’t have a clearance, but I have to have a clearance to have that job, how do I make that happen? 


Kevin Long: Yeah, the chicken and the egg problem. Well, not all contracts need existing clearances. There will almost always be a preference for it because it’s easier. I mean, transferring a clearance is always easier than a new one, but honestly, most programs that I’ve worked with that require clearance. Accept an interim clearance, which means that they will accept people that are in the clearance process, so it’s about if you are the best person for the job. Almost every government agency will work with you to get the right person. To do. The job. 


Adam McNair: And as an interviewer, you’re really not allowed. To ask people. Any of the things that might cause them to not get their clearance, you’re really not permitted to ask them about. But as a candidate, there’s nothing wrong with you saying, by the way, I know I don’t have a clearance and I would need an interim to be on that program. And I know what the real variables are for whether you get a clearance or not. There’s nothing in my background that’s going to stop me from getting an interim because that’s always the worry. When you sit there, you look at one candidate who’s already cleared and another candidate who you’d have to get an interim on. You ask yourself, what’s the likelihood that this person never defaulted on a car loan? 


Kevin Long: Yeah, because. 


Adam McNair: You know, there’s things you can’t. You have no idea. 


Kevin Long: And you really don’t want to get the customer to fall in love with someone without a clearance and say that they’ll work out and then have them fall through. 


Kevin Long: I’ve gotten used to when I interview people saying, hey, you know, these are the things that cause trouble with clearance. Are you still comfortable going forward with this process? It’s a nice yes or no answer. And with that, if they say yes, we believe them because you know. You got it right. I mean you, you’ve liked him enough to try to bring them on board that far. So we go with the assumption that that they’re that they understand with all of that and they’re the right person. For it. But yeah, we’ve had some people or I’ve had some people say, you know, no, not really. And then you say well, thank you and you know then this is probably not the right gig for you. But, you know, when they say yes, you know, then it’s great. Just takes time. 


Adam McNair: Yeah, I agree. And that’s a very good practice from a company standpoint is to try to you don’t ask the person you say look this particular customer here are their real areas of emphasis from a clearance stand. Point. While these things aren’t technically wrong, or or or or not going to cause you a major problem in most things, they’re not going to let you get cleared. I know I’ve seen the some of the things around financial stability at particularly like we had a lot of people at DEA. Over the years, they have a lot of places where they are dealing with big rooms full of cash because they they are, they are doing raids, they’re doing interdiction, they’re ending up seizing big sums of of of money. They’re very, very particular about making sure that people are very financially stable and there are a lot of other agencies that have. Their own particular. 


Kevin Long: Federal student aid asks specific questions about have you defaulted on a student loan? You know, because they they care about that. EA puts again, also puts a whole lot of emphasis on drug use, right, obviously. 


Adam McNair: Makes sense, right? Yeah, yeah. Another question that that we get around clearances is. Kevin, how much is it going to cost to get my clearance? 


Kevin Long: Nothing. Customer, I don’t even know that they get billed. I know I’ve never seen an invoice for it. It’s part of the cost of doing. Business, so yeah. 


Adam McNair: Yeah. So that’s something to know. Is that getting a clearance doesn’t cost the applicant anything. But as a company, you don’t pay for it. There’s no mechanism for us to write a check to OPM or the Defense Security Service or anybody else that adjudicates clearances to pay them back for whatever level of clearance it is. So I do know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve had several people that I’ve known be told. My companies. We’re not going to put you in for a clearance because we don’t want. To pay. For it, they’re either misinformed or they just didn’t want to tell you to your face that they don’t want to get you a clearance, which ties into. I’ve gotten a question within the last week. Can you park my clearance? For me, the contract I’m on doesn’t require it. 


Kevin Long: But I don’t want. 


Adam McNair: To lose it, I don’t want to lose it. Can you park it for me? The answer to that question is always equivocally no, because that language indicates that I don’t have any need of this clearance, but I sure would like to keep this thing that I really, truly don’t have a requirement for. 


Kevin Long: Nope. Sure would be convenient. 


Adam McNair: Yeah, so here’s the here’s the right question. When you’re approaching an employee, an employer, and you have a clearance that you would like to maintain. 


Kevin Long: Doesn’t work that way. 


Adam McNair: I currently have a clearance. The contract I’m going to doesn’t require one. Are there any things inside of the company where I could assist at some limited way in a part time capacity that would require that clearance? Some examples of that might be you’re going to a contract that’s not cleared. 


Kevin Long: Right. 


Adam McNair: But you know the company has cleared contracts and they might need ISO audits done if they need it. If they need an audit done on a contract that is cleared, there’s a good chance the person that shows up on site for the couple of hours 1/4 to do that probably needs to. Prints. That would mean you would probably need to maintain your clearance. 


Kevin Long: Yeah. Or if you do release management or your DBA or a program or something like that is there or is there help that could be done on a release, could you be able to step in to help cover folks when they go on vacation? I mean just things that that legitimately. Give you a reason to need to have a clearance. That’s it. 


Adam McNair: And the reason behind that is you know the the regulations say that you can’t just give clearances to people that don’t. Need them but. DSS Defense Security Service comes in and audits companies periodically, and the way those audits go is they want to make sure you’re doing the right stuff, that the people that have access to the clearance systems have the right trainings and clearances, all that kind of stuff they do those. Things. But then what they say is show me. All of your contracts. That have clearance requirements and then show me the employees that you have that have clearances as they relate to those contracts. So when you get down to ohh well, here’s Adam McNair: . He’s not working on any of these things. Why are you holding his clearance? That’s those are the questions they ask. So. 


Kevin Long: This is this is a $1 million a year contract. Why are there 50 clearances against this? 


Adam McNair: Exactly. And so, so the the real answer needs to be here are the things these people are doing and the bona fide things they’re doing for that program because DSS is not going to delve into, why does it take two quality assurance people to check deliverables that are submitted? If those people are really doing those things, DSS isn’t going to say I think you should be able to do that with. With. Less software developers that they’re not in the business of that right. There’s at least say ohh OK, they build software that’s a software contract that makes sense, those people. We’re there. So I think that’s a topic that is commonly brought up and people are looking for a favor and. 


Kevin Long: Oh yeah. 


Adam McNair: You can’t park clearances, you can’t hold them when there’s no need for them. But what you can do is have a conversation about, OK, you do have a clearance. That’s a valuable thing. What other things could you be doing for us inside of the company that? Would take advantage. Of that, just one last thing to touch on in in the area that I think is also interesting. 


Kevin Long: Absolutely. 


Adam McNair: Is companies have what is called a facility clearance and so. If someone has a security clearance and they go to a company that does not have a facility clearance and then you facility, you might think facility means building right. What it really means is the company, they give you a cage code that demonstrates what clearance level you have. A company can only hold clearances. If they have a facility clearance and they only have a facility clearance, if they have a cage code. 


Kevin Long: And they can only hold the clearances up to the level of their facility clearance. 


Adam McNair: Yeah. So if you go into sam.gov, which is where companies have. To have their their profile, it’s like the LinkedIn profile of companies officially for the government. If the company has a cage code, they can hold clearances at some level. If they do not, and they’ve told you that. Oh, come on over. Yeah, we hold close. They can’t. They can’t. But an interesting thing is the difference between having a facility clearance and having a cleared facility is a little bit different. 


Kevin Long: Doesn’t look that way. 


Adam McNair: Do you have a safe in your? Office, Kevin. 


Kevin Long: Nope. 


Adam McNair: A gigantic safe with glass plates in it. All kinds of certification stickers on  

the side. 


Kevin Long: And a combination that you have to change every 90 days. Yeah. No, not here yet, thankfully. 


Adam McNair: That’s the difference there is. There’s a couple different kinds companies can hold personnel clearances, but not necessarily be approved for storage. It’s the same thing. They only approve you for storage. If you have a need to to to store classified information, then it goes from. 


Kevin Long: Yep. 


Adam McNair: Do I just have a safe one of these gigantic 10,000 LB, four inch thick steel, glass plate, etcetera, etcetera safes and that means I can have cleared information in the in the facility. I can get it out and look at it and then it goes back in the safe. That’s the use case. It’s not. Ohh I have all this stuff in my. You’re either using it or it’s locked up and that’s it and you don’t. You don’t get up and go to lunch and leave the safe unlocked. And when they say it’s open, it doesn’t matter if it’s doors closed, it has to be locked and you have to have a log that shows every time the safe was opened and. Closed. 


Kevin Long:  

Yep. And then you have to do, I mean, all sorts of stuff like American citizens are the ones who empty the trash. Yeah, in those buildings and stuff like that. It. A ton of different hassle with a secure facility as opposed to a facility. 


Adam McNair:  

Clearance. Yeah. And then a true what they call open storage. That means your entire office. You can have classified information. It can be kind of wherever you can be working on it. You can. You can leave it out. 


Kevin Long: Yeah, your entire office is the safe. 


Adam McNair: You’re exactly your entire office is the safe. The door lock becomes a combination lock, and there are all kinds of requirements like. The concrete walls have to go floor to ceiling behind your drywall. You might have a drop ceiling, but it has to be met. Concrete to concrete or with steel reinforcement and chain link fence. Your comp cables have to be shielded. You can’t have exterior windows that are uncovered. There are all kinds of things that. 


Adam McNair: That are required there. 


Kevin Long: Oh yeah. 


Adam McNair: And it becomes a very hard place to work. You can’t bring your cell phones in. 


Kevin Long: Yeah. 


Adam McNair: There, there’s a lot of reasons to not try to not want it exactly. So those are the differences. So pretty much any company that you walk into, what you’re going to find is that they can, that they will be able to hold facility clear, they will be able to hold personal clearances if they have facility clearance. But very few of us have actual classified storage. 


Kevin Long: Yeah, that’s. The more into the I see that you get, the more you’ll see and the larger the companies. They, they, they, they’ll have some but. In terms of small businesses, you got to, you got to really be neck deep in the intelligence community to have that juice be worth the squeeze. 


Adam McNair: Yeah, yeah. One of the little fun little side actions that I I had several years ago is that we were trying to get a connection to our business, to a government network and. Had to fill out paperwork. The problem was, once you filled out the paperwork of how you were going to connect to that network, it became classified because it’s federal architecture. And so the the form and all the documentation was unclassified. But once I wrote on it, the data was classified. 


Kevin Long: Yep. The data is classified. 


Adam McNair: But we didn’t have classified storage. 


Kevin Long: Ohh no. 


Adam McNair: So it kind of raised that. Question. 


Kevin Long: How do I fill it out? 


Adam McNair: I’m happy to do this. I’m happy to fill it out. I don’t know what to do with it. Once I fill it out and so. So what we decided is we would fill it out. You have to double wrap the information and then we would have it in a locked briefcase and Courier it down to the government office. Needed to have a Courier classified Courier. That’s all hard. So we had to have our badging department make a new bag. Edge that demonstrated that one of my folks was a classified information Courier and we had to buy a metal briefcase and do that whole thing. That didn’t take it have to be metal, but we just felt like it was more appropriate to have it do that. 


Kevin Long: If you’re going to go James Bond, briefcase, go James Bond. Briefcase. 


Adam McNair: Yeah. And they the guy was really disappointed that you didn’t actually have to handcuff it to him. He’s like, they gonna handcuff it to me, right? No, it’s it’s just has to be a locked briefcase is all is all that’s. That’s really all it has to be but. 


Kevin Long: Oh.S peaker Right. That’s. Awesome. 


Adam McNair: But yeah, so that’s one of the. Little weirdness is that that happens. Anything else on the? 


Kevin Long: Clearance. Just a there is a difference between clearance and the public trust. They often are used interchangeably, but the process the form may be different, but the process is nearly identical. The amount of time is also equally obscure for the differences there, and so clearances are strictly around national security. Public trust is around just what it sounds like. Should the public trust you to do something, so civilian agencies will sometimes use public trust. When they when they don’t touch defense or intelligence, but want to have a level of the vetting of staff for for that, so. Essentially, through all of this public trust and clearances could be used interchangeably. 


Adam McNair: Yeah. The last thing I’ll leave it with is it’s really important to know what you actually have. A lot of people you talk to, I think I have a. 


Kevin Long: Ohh yeah. 


Adam McNair: Secret. It’s never good to try to go around that. That gate. What I would, what I would tell you to do is. Anybody’s facility security officer can log in to what’s called the J Pass system. They can log in and see if you have a clearance. It takes a person’s Social Security number and and their name and date of birth, and they can look you up and know what you have and know what date your. Investigation is due. Again, that’s really important and it makes it a lot easier and put it on your resume. 


Kevin Long: Yeah. Yeah. I got to look that. Up. Yeah, right. Yeah. 


Adam McNair: All right. Well, well, thank you. Thank you to, to Kevin and to Matt Dotson  

who’s doing the production of our our podcast here at highlight. We will continue to do these.We hope that it’s a way that we’re able to meaningfully share things with with all of our employees and have some comment about. Via the community and engage with our our partners in industry and some of our customers. So if you have feedback or any thoughts, please get back to us. We’re available through the highlight tech.com website and we also are up on iTunes, so. 


Kevin Long: Yeah. And if there’s anything you’d like to hear us talk about. Let us know. 


Adam McNair: All right. Thanks everybody. 

Announcement: The views and opinions expressed in this episode are those of the host and do not necessarily reflect highlight technologies and or any agency of the US government.