DD Form 254 (Department of Defense Contract Security Classification Specification)

The National Industrial Security Operating Manual (NISPOM) requires that the government provide a DD Form 254 every time it issues a Request for Proposal, Invitation for Bid, or Request for Quote to contractors. According to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), this form should also be included in every classified contract. But what exactly is the DD Form 254 Department of Defense Contract Security Classification, and why is it important?

What Is a DD Form 254?

The DD Form 254 is a formal resource that provides classification guidance and security requirements to contractors. It is usually applied to all contracts that involve access to delicate and classified information and is designed to guide a contractor on the proper handling procedures for the received content.

Generally, the DD Form 254 only applies to contracts within the US industry. If a contract is with a foreign company, government, or organization, the contractor will receive additional guidance depending on the type of contract and information.

When Is A DD Form 254 Required?

All the organizations within the Department of Defense (DoD) are required to engage in complex acquisitions within a wide variety of fields. Such transactions tend to involve the maintenance and handling of classified information, which requires security clearances. Consequently, the department incorporates DD Form 254 into all contracts that involve classified information.

If a contractor wishes to work with the government on a project that will require access to classified information, they must sign the form.

Preparing the DD Form 254

Preparing the DD Form 254 09012022

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    Essential Elements of a DD Form 254

    DD Form 254 Department of Defense Contract Security Classification is a very extensive document. Some of its key elements include:

    • Clearance Level: This is the first item on the form. It identifies the classification level of the form itself, not the contractor or program manager.
    • Protection Level: The protection levels define the level of safeguarding that should be maintained for the classified material or information at the contractor’s facility.
    • Contract Type: This section specifies whether the form is a subcontractor or prime contract. If the latter applies, you must also show whether the document is for a solicitation.
    • Solicitation Details: If the document is for a solicitation, you must supply the solicitation due date and solicitation number assigned by the activity.
    • Contract Number: If the form is for an awarded contract, the next section must contain the contract number given to you by the contracting office.
    • Creation Date: This is where you state whether this is your first time filing DD Form 254 by marking ‘Original’ and entering the date you created the form.
    • Revision Date: If you are revising an already-approved DD Form 254, you will complete the next section with the requested details.
    • Contractor Details: This section identifies the contractor by their name (as it appears on their NISS profile), mailing address, Cognizant Security Office (CSO), phone number, and cage code.
    • Subcontractor Details: Sometimes, the Facility Security Officer (FSO) is allowed to add a subcontractor to the form. When this is the case, they must include the subcontractor’s name, cage code, CSO details, and address as they appear on the company NISS profile.
    • Performance Location: This section identifies the location where the performance will be taking place. It entails the location, name, and address of the place where the contractor will access the classified material or information.
    • Procurement Description: This is a brief procurement description. It can be derived from the objective and scope provided in the Statement of Work.
    • Access Description: This is a description of the type of access required.
    • Contractor Roles: This section identifies the actions that the contractor will be responsible for during the activity.
    • Security Procedures: Determines the applicable security procedures.
    • Contractor Agency: Includes the name, address, and contact information of the Contracting Officer Representative of the requesting agency.
    • Involved Parties: Names of the people who will get signed copies of the form. Usually includes at least the contractor, subcontractor, Administrative Contracting Officer, and CSO.

    Review Requirements for DD Form 254

    The DD Form 254 must be reviewed every two years by the contracting office and program manager to ensure that the contract requirements are in line with the current security requirements. If the review shows that no changes are needed, the program manager will send the contracting officer a copy, and the contracting officer will forward it to the contractor. The contractor will then have proof in writing that the DD Form 254 is valid for the next 2 years or until the program changes.

    However, if the review shows that changes need to be made to the form, the program manager must revise it and send the contracting officer a copy. The contracting officer will then incorporate the changes and send a new DD Form 254 to the contractor.

    Update Requirements for DD Form 254

    Besides 2-year reviews, the DD Form 254 should also be revised and updated every time some pertinent information or security requirements change. This is done to ensure that the security requirements are relevant and current to the contract. Some changes that could necessitate an update include if the contractor changes their main address or company name.


    Where should you send a completed Form DD 254?

    Once you complete the DD Form 254, you should submit it to the National Industrial Security Program. They have a Contracts Classification System module that you can use to submit the form electronically.

    Who prepares subcontractor DD Form 254?

    The main parties involved in the preparation of DD Form 254 are the program, contractor, and technical expert personnel. The program will identify the security requirements that the contractor must follow while the technical expert will determine the information that needs to be protected.

    What is DD Form 254 used for?

    DD Form 254 is used to give contractors access to classified information under the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).

    Final Thoughts

    Completing a DD Form 254 Department of Defense Contract Security Classification accurately ensures that DoD contracts are awarded on time and that national security is protected. It also helps preserve acquisition collaborations between multiple agencies. Additionally, if an agency is non-DoD and unfamiliar with NISPOM requirements, completing the form helps relieve some of the administrative burden of handling classified information.