What is a SCIF or Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility?


Simply stated, a SCIF is a U.S. Government accredited facility where Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) can be stored, discussed or electronically processed. Primarily Government and government-related contractors that require high security have the need for SCIFs. The areas of concern and special attention typically include physical security and hardening, acoustics controls, visual controls, access control, electronic and TEMPEST security.


The minimum requirements for SCIFs are defined in Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 705/ IC Technical Specification. The directive describes many specialized construction requirements with the intention to ensure that high security features are built into the facility beyond those achieved by typical commercial construction. For example, all perimeter surfaces (walls, ceilings and floor) are to be constructed so that they will reveal evidence of unauthorized entry or tampering. Depending on each project’s individual performance requirements, additional materials may be required for construction, such as radiant barrier foil, physical perimeter hardening by use of expanded metal with heavier gauge metal studs, as well as additional protective acoustical features to prevent eavesdropping and collection of audio intelligence emanating from the SCIF. There are various methods of achieving the proper protective measures required for a fully accredited facility and these various methods can have a substantial cost impact on the project. Since the selection of which methods are to be used is determined by each project’s unique characteristics such as “Open” or “Closed” storage, Security in Depth (SID), Inspectable Space, as well as the surrounding conditions, it is most beneficial in terms of both time and money to properly design the facility prior to construction.

scif-03 A few of the many specialized requirements are;