Most people have never heard the term sensitive compartmented information facility or seen the acronym SCIF. However, they are somewhat familiar with what these facilities are, as the White House situation room is probably the most well-known of these areas. In a SCIF, people can view and discuss sensitive information without fear of someone else seeing or overhearing the material.

To qualify as a SCIF, the areas must be government accredited. However, any facility that meets the qualifications can be used for this purpose. In many cases, in fact, a container is used as a SCIF. People can learn more at about scalable SCIFs and their uses.

How Does a Scalable SCIF Differ from a Permanent SCIF?

Scalable SCIFs can be used for many purposes. A government or military entity might choose to use the space as a briefing room, for storage, or as a workstation. The suite is a secure facility and can be used just as a permanent SCIF. However, it differs in that it is smaller and can be relocated as needed. Organizations often use scalable SCIFs when they run out of space in their building or when a secure space is needed while traveling or working in a foreign country. What benefits come with using these suites?

Portable Accommodations

Scalable SCIFs can be used in a multitude of locations. An organization may use the suite initially at its home base. However, when working in another area, this same facility can be relocated. The organization doesn’t need to invest money to have a new one constructed.

The suite may be placed in a variety of locations. Most SCIFs of this type will easily fit in a parking lot, warehouse, or field. Once the unit is in place, the organization connects it to local utilities and it is ready for use.

Government contractors often lease buildings rather than buy them outright. They don’t want to retrofit a building that does not belong to them when the lease could end at any time. Doing so would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and this money is lost when the lease is up.

A portable SCIF is ideal for this situation as it offers the same level of security as a permanent SCIF but can be moved as needed. Organizations appreciate the mundane appearance of these SCIFs because most people will often mistake them for conventional shipping containers.

Speed of Construction

It takes a minimum of six months to construct a permanent SCIF in a building. The process can actually take much longer. The process begins with a team designing the space. Once the design is complete, it must go through an approval process before the actual construction can begin.

Organizations find the same is not true of scalable SCIFs. A SCIF of this type can be built in less than 12 weeks. The design and fabrication process takes place in a factory. Once this process is complete, the SCIF is ready to be purchased and used.

Ease of Acquisition

Government and military organizations appreciate the speed with which they can have a temporary SCIF up and running. The suite can be purchased as equipment, simplifying the acquisition process. The organization picks a SCIF and the manufacturer constructs it in its facility, so there are no weather delays or other issues commonly seen in construction projects. 

The Drawbacks of Scalable SCIFs

Cost remains the biggest drawback of scalable SCIFs. Expect to pay more for a SCIF of this type, although it can be relocated as needed. Furthermore, the suite may not be big enough to hold the number of people needing to use it. For example, a large board of directors might find there isn’t enough room in the suite for everyone to come together for a meeting.

Regardless of whether an organization chooses to construct a permanent SCIF in a building or opts for a portable version, such as a suite, certain requirements must be met before the SCIF can be used. This is to protect sensitive information and ensure it does not fall into the wrong hands. Many organizations find a scalable SCIF is all that is needed. For those organizations that own their buildings and use the SCIF regularly, a permanent version should be constructed. Other organizations, however, should consider a scalable SCIF, as it comes with numerous benefits.