Intelligence & Security

Special Access Program

Special Access Programs (SAP) is a compartmentalized source of information that has limited access for selected Critical Program Information (CPI). SAPs are created by departments and agencies and has protocols and safeguards from unintended disclosure that exceed normal (collateral) classified information. A SAP may impose more stringent investigative or adjudicative requirements, specialized nondisclosure agreements, special terminology or markings, exclusion from standard contract investigations, and centralized billet systems.  Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) control systems may be the most well-known intelligence SAPs.

Two (2) types of SAP exist:

  1. Acknowledged: publicly disclosed, but the details of the program remain classified
  2. Unacknowledged: not publicly disclosed and is made known only to authorized persons

There are three (3) categories of SAPs within the DoD: [1]

  1. Acquisition SAP: protect the “research, development, testing, modification, and evaluation or procurement” of new systems;
  2. Intelligence SAP: protect the “planning and execution of especially sensitive intelligence or CI units or operations”;
  3. Operations and Support SAP: protect the “planning, execution, and support” of sensitive military activities

SAP documents require special marking to indicate their status. The words SPECIAL ACCESS REQUIRED, followed by the program nickname or codeword, are placed in the document’s banner line. [1]


AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 8/6/2021

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