Foreign Government
Classified Information

The U.S. Government has negotiated agreements with many foreign countries regarding the protection of classified information. These agreements commit the United States to provide substantially the same degree of protection for foreign classified information as it provides to U.S. information classified at the same level.

When contractors are awarded contracts that involve access to foreign classified information, they shall notify the U.S. government agency that monitors their security compliance. That agency will then administer oversight and ensure implementation of the security requirements of the contract on behalf of the foreign government.

Some additional requirements pertaining to foreign government information are given below.1

Marking Foreign Government Classified Material: Foreign government designations for classified information generally parallel U. S. security classification designations. However, some foreign governments have a fourth level of classification, Restricted, for which there is no equivalent U.S. classification. This information is to be protected and marked as Confidential information. When other foreign government material is received, the equivalent U.S. classification and the country of origin shall be marked on the front in English. 

Marking U.S. Documents That Contain Foreign Government Information: U.S. documents that contain foreign government information shall be marked on the front, "THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS FOREIGN GOVERNMENT (indicate level) INFORMATION." The portions of the document that contain foreign classified information shall be identified and marked to identify the classification level and the country of origin. No U.S. document shall be downgraded below the highest level of foreign government information contained in the document, nor shall it be declassified without the written approval of the foreign government that originated the information.

Marking Documents Prepared for Foreign Governments: Documents prepared for foreign governments that contain U.S. and foreign government information shall be marked as prescribed by the foreign government. In addition, they shall be marked on the front, "THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS UNITED STATES CLASSIFIED INFORMATION." Portions shall be marked to identify the U.S. classified information.

Security Clearances: Personnel security clearances and facility clearances issued by the U.S. Government are valid for access to classified foreign government information of a corresponding level. Contractor employees will be briefed and acknowledge in writing their responsibilities for handling foreign government information prior to being granted access.

Storage, Control, and Accountability: Foreign government material shall be stored and access controlled generally in the same manner as U.S. classified material of an equivalent classification, with one significant exception. Other governments and NATO have not lessened the accountability requirements for their Secret information. Therefore, we are required to provide a greater degree of control over foreign government Secret information. There must be records reflecting the transfer of responsibility and accountability of foreign Secret information.2 Also, foreign government material shall be stored in a manner that will avoid commingling with U.S. classified information. For example, it should be stored in separate files.

Disclosure and Use Limitations: Foreign government information shall not be disclosed to nationals of a third country, including intending citizens, or to any other third party, or be used for other than the purpose for which it was provided, without the prior written consent of the originating foreign government.

Export of Foreign Government Information: An export authorization is required for the export or re-export of export-controlled foreign government information except for technical data being returned to the original source of import. Foreign government information shall not be exported to a third party without the prior consent of the originating government.

Public Disclosure: The public disclosure of foreign government information requires the prior written approval of the contracting foreign government.

Reproduction: The reproduction of foreign government Top Secret information requires the written approval of the originating government.

Disposition: Upon completion of a contract, foreign government information shall be returned to the responsible U.S. Government agency or to the foreign government that provided the information unless the contract specifically authorizes destruction or retention of the information.

Related Topics: Classification Procedures, Marking Classified Information.

1. This is an abbreviated version of National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, paragraphs 10-300 to 10-317.
2. DSS Industrial Security Letter 96L-1, International Issues, March 13, 1996, paragraph 8.




The Chroma Group, Ltd.