GSA Approved Safes & Storage Container Requirements – What is the Right Safe to Use?


The General Service Administration (GSA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) have approved certain safes and file cabinets for the storage of classified documents, weapons, ammunition, pharmaceuticals and computer electronics. These safes meet stringent engineering and security specifications to ensure the integrity of sensitive, classified and top secret information. With varying security parameters for certain items and documents it can be challenging to know which security requirements are right for you.

All organizations that have information that is deemed Classified by the Government are required to store that information in either a Class 5 or Class 6 container. This includes Federal office and covered entities, Universities working on research, Government Contractors or Sub-Contractors, as well as all branches of the United States Military.

History of GSA Approved Containers

There have been a total of seven classes of GSA Approved Containers that have been engineered and manufactured over the last few decades. Due to various directives most of these containers have been discontinued. Today, only the Class 5 and Class 6 rated versions are approved and manufactured. Class 6 rated safes and cabinets are approved only for the storage of classified documents. The Class 5 rating is a higher security rating and offers an additional forced entry resistance.

Every GSA Approved Container and cabinet must have a lock (digital or mechanical) that meets the Federal Requirements listed under Federal Specification FF-L-2740. Currently the standard for most of these containers is the digital X-09 lock that is designed to allow for either a single or dual combination for two person integrity (TPI). Containers for the storage of weapons and ammunition require a mechanical combination lock as they maintain lower failure rates.

It is important to note that one of the discontinued classes of GSA Approved containers was a fireproof container. At this point in time there are NO Federal Specifications for a fire resistant safe that is approved for the storage of classified or top secret documents. It is advised that if you purchase a fireproof safe make sure that it is UL Rated (Underwriters Laboratories).

What is the Difference between Class 5 and Class 6?

In addition to differences in the type of materials and information that can be stored inside the container, the Class 5 and Class 6 security ratings differ in security level and construction. Class 6 security ratings offer 30 man-minutes again covert entry and 20 man-hours against surreptitious entry with no requirement for forced entry. Class 5 security rated safes include those of the Class 6 rating with an additional 10 man-minute forced entry rating.

Types of Containers

The most commonly used Class 6 Security Containers are available in two, four and five drawer versions. These containers are file cabinets and can include either a single lock that controls all of the drawers or a lock on each drawer. Multi-lock containers offer a higher degree of access control and physical security. In addition to these file cabinets there are also general purpose storage safes that can be outfitted with customized interiors as well as map, plan and blueprint storage accessories.

The Class 5 containers are more diverse and include file cabinets, general purpose cabinets, weapons safes as well as IPS Containers. IPS Containers are designed for the storage of online and operating computer systems, servers, switches and encryption devices that process sensitive or classified information. These safes maintain strict standards to ensure that air flow and cooling are maintained to ensure reliability and integrity of all equipment stored inside.

There are several manufacturers that engineer and build a complete line of GSA Approved and U.L. Listed Security Products. Many of these security products are purchased by the Government and Government contractors from GSA Federal Supply Service contracts. These service contracts provide discounted pricing to those that qualify and meet certain standards.  

An important consideration for any project that requires a GSA Approved Container is to ensure that the right container is being used to store information. It is always best to speak with an experienced consultant to ensure that the best safe is used for your unique requirements.


Source by John Klemme