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What is a Special Access Program (SAP)?

Updated: Feb 26, 2023



In the United States government, certain types of sensitive information require an even higher level of protection than what is provided by standard security measures. This is where Special Access Programs (SAPs) come in. SAPs are a set of security protocols and procedures that are designed to protect extremely sensitive national security information. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at what a SAP is, why it's necessary, and how it works.


What is a Special Access Program?


A SAP is a security protocol that is used to protect highly sensitive and classified information. The purpose of a SAP is to restrict access to this information to only those individuals who have a "need to know." This means that individuals who are not directly involved in the operation or project will not have access to the information.


SAPs are created by executive order and are overseen by the National Security Council. They are typically used for information related to intelligence operations, weapons development, and other areas of national security.


Why are SAPs necessary?


SAPs are necessary because certain types of information are too sensitive to be shared with all members of the government, even those with high levels of clearance. To protect this information, it is necessary to restrict access to only those individuals who have a legitimate need to know.


SAPs are also used to protect the sources and methods of intelligence gathering. If this information were to fall into the wrong hands, it could compromise the safety of individuals involved in these operations.


How do SAPs work?


SAPs are created for specific programs or projects and are typically managed by a Program Manager (PM) who is responsible for overseeing access to the information. The PM is typically a senior government official who is responsible for determining who has a "need-to-know" and who does not. Individuals who are granted access to a SAP are required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and undergo a thorough background check. The background check is designed to ensure that the individual does not have any history of criminal activity, drug abuse, or other factors that may compromise their ability to handle sensitive information.


SAPs are also subject to strict physical security measures. Information related to a SAP may be stored in a secure facility, and may only be accessed by individuals who have been authorized to do so.


In conclusion, Special Access Programs (SAPs) are an essential component of the United States government's national security strategy. They are designed to protect highly sensitive information related to intelligence operations, weapons development, and other areas of national security. SAPs restrict access to this information to only those individuals who have a legitimate "need-to-know," and are subject to strict physical security measures to ensure the information remains secure. While SAPs may seem overly restrictive, they are essential for protecting the safety and security of the United States and its citizens.



  • Aaron - The Not Top Secret podcast team









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