Secure Room Construction

There are several types of secure room construction done for both the federal government and commercial industry. There are multiple government agencies that have a need for the construction of Closed Storage Facilities, Open Storage Facilities, and Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Additionally, many contractors with DOD contracts frequently have a need for certified SCIFs to provide a higher level of security related to contract operations.

The commercial industry often uses what they label Special Access Areas or Secure Rooms. These rooms are often required for the protection of proprietary and/or sensitive research data. They may also be used as Special Access Areas where sensitive discussions are held.

What is a SCIF?

A SCIF is a facility or room constructed in accordance with specific federal guidelines and accredited by an Accrediting Authority. This construction typically includes physical, audible, visual and electronic security. The minimum requirements for SCIFs are in the ICD 705 manual, but they are not limited to those listed in the directive.

To construct a facility ready for accreditation, all inside surfaces (walls ceilings, floors, etc.) are constructed so that they are attached to one another in order to reveal compromise or tampering. Additional materials may be required for wall construction, such as foil, steel or expanded metal, to provide physical insulation as well as protection from eavesdropping on audio intelligence within the SCIF. Further audible protection is possible through the use of a sound masking system generally used to cover windows, duct work, or in other openings. SCIF doors must have a minimum solid thickness, support sound absorption up to 50 decibel, have non-removable hinges inside the facility, and use an automatic closure.

All telephone, electrical power, security systems, data and emergency systems equipment must be dedicated to and contained within the SCIF to assure official use only. Whenever a conduit for any of these systems penetrates the SCIF perimeter, they must be treated to minimize the chance of compromise. Fire sprinkler systems that penetrate SCIF walls must be grounded.

If duct work for mechanical operations has openings in the SCIF larger than 96 square inches, they must be equipped with steel man bars that are 1/2-inch in diameter and 6” on center each way, welded at the intersections, with inspection ports inside the SCIF. The inspection port must be secured from the inside of the SCIF with controlled access to it. The openings, the duct work and the duct breaks must also have non-metallic inserts to secure the sounds emitted within the SCIF.

Do I need a SCIF or Secure Room Consultant?

When faced with the construction of a SCIF or Secure Room the best approach is to either retain a SCIF Specialty Contractor or a SCIF Consultant. The ultimate objective of every agency or DOD contractor is to have its facility fully accredited. Therefore, it is advised to involve a SCIF Consultant or Specialty Contractor in the design phase of the construction in order to save money, keep the project on schedule and avoid the possibility of accreditation failure and/or re-work. The best chance of getting a YES to the question “Can you guarantee that my SCIF will be accredited” is to hire a SCIF Consultant or SCIF Specialty Contractor.