HomeResourcesNSA Classified Materiel Conversion (CMC)

NSA Classified Materiel Conversion (CMC)

NSA/CSS accomplishes disposition of classified materiel by using standard industrial conversion or approved destruction methods through numerous recycling and reclamation procedures in strict accordance with environmental, safety, and security standards.

The CMC is responsible for the secure collection, processing, destruction and conversion of acceptable classified materiel. See additional guidance below.


Note: The CMC service is only available to NSA/CSS elements, other Intelligence Community (IC) members, and certain U.S. military units. There are a limited amount of US government agencies and contractors that qualify. *This is not a service for the public.

How can a contractor qualify?

A company under a current contract with the NSA/CSS or a member of the Intelligence Community (IC) with a disposition requirement for the IC affiliated materiel and /or IC Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) is required to submit a Contractor’s Approval Form (CAF) to the CMC office for review. During the review process, contractors complete a questionnaire in addition to the information provided on the CAF to verify that the provided materiel has the correct affiliation. Any subcontracted company is not eligible to qualify.

Once approved, the CMC office issues a Customer ID Number (CIN) on the CAF. Copies of the approved form must be enclosed with materiel/GFE components, a CMC receipt and a self-addressed envelope with postage. Additionally, to maintain an active CMC account, Contractor CMC Account holders are subjected to update a CAF annually. At the discretion of the CMC office each transaction sent from a contractor is subject to an additional qualification.

How can a US Government or US Military unit qualify?

IC members, and a limited amount of US Government Agencies, and/ or Military units with a disposition requirement should contact the CMC office to discuss the application process.

Also, the NSA/CSS, Media Destruction Guidance webpage is available for everyone to verify use or procure evaluated destruction products.


There are three categories for the disposition of classified materiel: paper pulp, special burn, and solid state conversion.


  1. Paper Items: NSA/CSS declassifies and destroys documents by mixing them with water to convert paper products into pulp for recycling. No incineration is involved in the declassification process. All documents sent to the CMC facility are required to be classified and / or relevant to the Intelligence Community.

    Paper items are referred to as water-soluble. This means they should break down and dissolve when mixed with water. Materiel items not meeting this criterion are defined as “Special Burn” items. For example, CMC customers with laminated or coated classified documents should refer to other non-water soluble materiel as special burn.

    An alternative method to paper pulp is shredding. The media destruction guidance webpage displays several paper shredders the center has evaluated for use.
  2. Special Burn Items: Following are examples of classified and IC related materiel items defined as “Special Burn”. Instructions on how to submit to CMC are below.
    1. Hard Copy Media: Mylar/paper tape, cassette, microfiche, and film. All CMC customers with classified hard copy media could send it to CMC minus the external aluminum casing and backing plate. The plates or casing removed should not be sent to the CMC facility.
    2. New hard drive preparation guidance:
      1. New hard drive preparation guidance for organizations and military units unaffiliated with the National Security Agency effective October 1, 2019.
      2. Due to new storage device capabilities being identified in hard drives, the Classified Materiel Conversion branch has updated the procedure for all customers not affiliated to an NSA organization to prepare hard drives for destruction as stated below.
      3. Moving forward, the CMC will ONLY accept the internal platters and circuit boards from classified hard drives.
      4. Any remaining metal housing and face plates will not be accepted by the CMC facility.
      5. Illustrations and procedures will be updated on the NSA.gov/CMC website in the near future.
      6. For questions or concerns, contact the CMC office @ (301) 688-6672.
    3. Non-Degaussed Hard Drives: to be accepted by CMC, remove from, server, computer tower or outer case, etc. Next, remove, all the mounting bracketing, the framing, (some have heavy metal backing plates that need to be removed), and (as of 2016) the circuit board. In addition, please do not leave screws protruding from any side of the drive. Finally, scrape off or mark out all classification markings or identification. Hard drives processed through a degausser listed on the evaluated products list (EPL), should have the circuit board removed. These degaussed hard drives should not be sent to CMC. See policy manual 9-12. For more information, read the Illustrations of Properly Prepared Hard Drives.
    4. Intelligence Community (IC) personnel Common Access Cards (CAC IDs)
    5. Magnetic Media: Data tapes, and Floppy disks. All CMC customers with classified magnetic media could send it to CMC minus the aluminum casing and backing plate. The plates or casing removed should not be sent to the CMC facility.
    6. Optical Media: Classified CDs, DVDs, and/or Blu-ray discs. Note: Storage cases are not accepted unless they contain ingrained classification markings on the case.
  3. Solid State Conversion:
    1. Aluminum Products: Such as classified hard drive disk platters or disk pack platters. Before sending a classified disk pack to CMC, please disassemble per the manufacturer guidelines: unscrew the plastic enclosure and remove all platters.
    2. Cell Phones/flip phones and/or pagers: Remove the batteries prior to sending the item to CMC. After the battery is removed, return those batteries to the unit’s internal hazardous material collection area. Note: The process for accepting a smartphone has changed. See line format, letter G for additional guidance about PCD disassembly.
    3. Circuit Boards: CMC can only accept the internal data cards or chips that might retain classified information. Remove frames, power supplies, plus all batteries: button type (CMOS), and lithium. Please do not send items removed to the CMC facility.

      This category includes: Printed Circuit Boards (PCB), RAM, PCI-E, PCI-X, PCM, or motherboards from any device that will need to be disassembled.

    4. Computer and COMSEC Chips: To avoid mixture or loss, place computer chips in a bag, mark them, and seal in the same or separate box for shipment.
    5. Key Storage Device Ignition Keys or Transmission Key Encryption Key (KEK): (Just the keys are acceptable as is) Any Key Storage Device (KSD 21, 64, etc.) will need to be disassembled. CMC can only accept the internal circuit cards, CCI boards, or chips.
    6. Memory cards/sticks: such as a classified RAM cards, MultiMedia card (MMC), Compact Flash drive (CF), Secure Digital (SD), SIM, and /or KSV 21 Fortezza cards. Remove any batteries prior to sending. CMC does not accept any batteries. To avoid mixture or loss place each component in a separate bag, mark them by category, and seal in the same or prepare a new box for shipment. The weight limit per package shipped is 40 lbs for handling purposes.
    7. PDAs, PCDs or MCDs such as a Blackberry, Smartphone, or tablet, etc: Disassembly might require the use of a tool known as a Pentalobe. *As of 31 March 2018, CMC customers are required to dissemble each device by removing the internal components that hold memory, classified information, and all types of batteries prior to sending a shipment to the CMC facility. Please do not send batteries to the CMC facility. After removal, return those batteries to the unit’s hazardous material collection area found locally.
    8. USB drives: remove any batteries prior to sending USB drives. To avoid mixture or loss place the thumb drives in a bag, mark them, and seal in the same package or separate box for shipment. The weight limit per package shipped is 40 lbs for handling purposes.


For additional information review the table listing Accepted and Unaccepted Materiel Items in the CMC Required Procedures Manual.

Please do not send batteries to the CMC facility. After battery removal is completed, return those batteries to the unit’s internal hazardous material collection area.

What if the materiel marked for disposition is not listed?

The CMC receipt and the required procedures manual lists acceptable items.

If the classified item marked for disposition is not listed, please have your Customer ID Number (CIN) ready when contacting the customer service office to discuss the potential approval for the requested item prior to releasing the shipment.


Classified materiel can be shipped to the CMC facility or hand delivered. Wrap all packages per the unit’s security office requirements.

Freight couriers require advance notice of arrival and might have to submit a visit request to enter the campus to allow the CMC facility to accept the shipment.

It’s required for all contractors with CMC accounts to supply the current copy of their approved CAF to accompany the CMC receipt, self-addressed envelope with postage, and the item/s for CMC services.

The mailing address, suggested mode of transportation, and visitor request process can be obtained from the latest CMC Required Procedures manual.

CMC account holders are responsible for the shipment until it reaches the CMC facility.


Effective 10/1/2020 all shipments must be directed to Suite 6890 only.

All CMC customers need to complete a Receipt for Destruction of Classified Materiel, to inventory the classified materiel in transit, and then attach a self-addressed envelope with postage. Enclose both with the materiel.

Contractors with an active CMC account, and under a current contract with a member of the IC will also need to supply the current copy of their approved CAF to accompany the receipt, a self-addressed envelope with postage, and the acceptable materiel as described in the guidance above.

Military elements are not required to supply a stamp on the self-addressed return envelope. Attach the self-addressed envelope to the CMC receipt.

Please do not include additional paperwork (such as an SF-153, shipping documents, etc.).

Package/seal items for the shipment per the unit’s security guidelines.

Keep in mind that the CMC accepts only classified Intelligence Community (IC) materiel and classified components marked for destruction. Unclassified is not accepted unless the materiel contains Personnel Identifiable Information (PII) directly related to the IC, NSA/CSS personnel.

Have to ship multiple packages at once?

All individual boxes should hold a CMC receipt, CAF (if a contractor), and a self-addressed envelope in the box unless packages are shrink-wrapped together. However, CMC considers a large shipment a set of shrink-wrapped numbered packages and/ or five packages or more sent at once. If multiple boxes are designated for services, CMC account holders should reduce the amount of receipts sent to one master copy - providing inventory for all components and materiel. Number all packages (1 of X), and wrap them together (in shrink-wrap) per the courier’s requirements. An alternative method would be to send all individual boxes (weight 40# or less) in one container (triwall). Place the master CMC receipt, CAF (if a contractor), and a self-addressed envelope in box #1, or enclose them in the container on top of the individual boxes inside the triwall. Protect the CMC receipt and envelope from damage while in transit. Failure to comply with the large shipment (repeatedly sending five or more boxes without attempting to condense the CMC receipts to a master copy) policy could result in suspension of services.

Select the appropriate link below to download the latest CMC documentation:

All CMC account holders are responsible to maintain the integrity of the CMC process. Due to emerging technology and storage device capabilities, each CMC document has the potential for a revision. CMC asks each account holder to confirm that the most recent versions are reviewed and stored to supersede outdated versions prior to sending a package to the CMC facility. Please note that the CMC is the authoritative party regarding any materiel that is accepted for CMC services. Direction to send materiel to the CMC facility by any source other than the NSA’s Classified Materiel Conversion (CMC) branch is not authorized.

Customers should have a Customer ID Number (CIN) available to reference an active account for each inquiry or request. Direct any concerns or questions to the CMC Customer Service Office by dialing 301-688-6672 or via CMC's online inquiry form.