NSA Classified Materiel Conversion (CMC)


NSA 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 offers a secure process to entities that qualify and possess items that meet the CMC criteria for acceptance.

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 Who can request a CMC account? 

The CMC service is only available to NSA elements, other Intelligence Community (IC) members, and certain U.S. military units. There are a limited amount of U.S. Government agencies and contractors that qualify. The CMC is the final authority on acceptance of new accounts and continuation of services for existing accounts. The CMC Customer Service Representatives are the only authority for items sent to the NSA for destruction.**This is not a service for the public.**

 Can a contractor qualify for an account?

Certain criteria has to be met for a Contractor to qualify for an account. As an example a company must be under a current contract with the NSA or a member of the Intelligence Community (IC) with a disposition requirement for the IC affiliated materiel and/or IC Government Furnished Equipment (GFE). In general if that is the case, the Contractor may 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. Your facility must be the Prime Contractor to apply. Subcontractors will not be considered.

If approved, the CMC office will issue a Customer ID Number (CIN) by providing a New Account Assignment Letter. At that point you should enter your assigned Customer ID Number on your CAF for record. Copies of the approved CAF must be enclosed with all shipments or deliveries, as outlined in the CMC Required Procedures Manual. Additionally, to maintain an active CMC account, Contractor Account holders are required to update a CAF annually or any time there is a change to the information or status of the initial CAF that was approved. At the discretion of the CMC Customer Service Representatives, each transaction sent from a contractor is subject to an additional qualification for acceptance.

 Can a U.S. Government or U.S. military unit apply?

Intelligence Community (IC) members, U.S. Government agencies, and/or military units with a disposition requirement should contact the CMC office to discuss their options and the application process. In addition, the NSA’s Media Destruction Guidance is available to verify use or procure evaluated destruction products.

 What classified materiel is accepted?

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

  1. Paper items:

    NSA declassifies paper documents by mixing them with water to convert paper products into pulp for recycling. No incineration is involved in the declassification process. Paper items that are acceptable 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 burns. An alternative method to paper pulp is shredding. Our media destruction guidance provides information on several paper shredders the center has evaluated for use.
  2. Special burn items:

    Following are examples of classified 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 may send it to CMC minus the external aluminum casing and backing plate. The plates or casing removed may not be sent to the CMC facility.
    2. Magnetic media:

      Data tapes, and Floppy disks. All CMC customers with classified magnetic media may send items to CMC minus the aluminum casing and backing plate. The plates or casing removed may not be sent to the CMC facility.
    3. Optical media:

      Classified CDs, DVDs, and/or Blu-ray discs. Note: Storage cases are not accepted under any circumstances.
    4. Intelligence Community (IC) Common Access Cards

  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. The CMC will only accept the platters.
    2. Cell phones/flip phones and/or pagers:

      The CMC no longer accepts these items.
    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 removed items including batteries to the CMC facility. **This category includes: Printed Circuit Boards, RAM, PCI-E, PCI-X, PCM and 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):

      Only 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 under any circumstances. To avoid mixture or accountability, place each component in a separate bag, mark them by category, and seal in the same package or prepare a separate package for shipment. The weight limit per package shipped is 40 lbs. for handling purposes.
    7. PDAs, PCDs or MCDs such as a Blackberry, smartphone, tablet, etc.:

       Disassembly may 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.
    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 materiel collection area.

**New hard drive preparation guidance for account holders not directly affiliated with the National Security Agency, effective October 1, 2019.**

Due to new storage device capabilities being identified in hard drives, CMC has updated the procedure for all customers not affiliated to an NSA organization to prepare hard drives for destruction as stated below. Moving forward, the CMC will ONLY accept the internal platters and circuit boards from classified hard drives. Any remaining metal housing and face plates will not be accepted by the CMC facility. For questions or concerns, contact the CMC office at (301) 688-6672.

 What if our items are not listed on the CMC receipt?

The CMC receipt and the required procedures manual lists acceptable items. If the classified item for disposition in your possession is not listed, generally the CMC does not accept the item. However there are exceptions, so please call the Customer Service Office to discuss any potential approval for the requested item or other options that you may have prior to sending any shipment to the CMC. Please have your Customer ID number available, so your account information can be accessed.

 How do I send classified materiel to the CMC?

Classified materiel can either be shipped to the CMC facility or hand-delivered, however, shipping is preferred. Please make sure that you prepare all packages per the unit’s security requirements.

Freight couriers require a 48-hour working day advance notice of arrival and must submit a visit request to the CMC Customer Service Office for approval prior to attempting to enter the NSA campus to allow the CMC facility ample time to schedule 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 approved classified 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, including the tracking status, until it reaches the CMC facility.

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

  • All CMC customers are required to provide a Receipt for Destruction of Classified materiel, that indicates the classified materiel in transit, and attach a self-addressed envelope for return of the processed CMC Receipt.

  • 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 CAF approved materiel only.
  • Military elements are not required to supply postage on the self-addressed return envelope. Attach the self-addressed envelope to the CMC receipt.
  • Please do not include any 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 is a classified materiel conversion facility and only accepts classified materiel for destruction. Unclassified items are not accepted unless the materiel has a direct affiliation with the NSA. You may call the Customer Service Office for approval if your items have that affiliation.  

 How do I ship multiple packages to the CMC?

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 (tri-wall). 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 tri-wall. 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 consolidate 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. Failure to comply with the required procedures may result in an account hold, suspension or termination of services, without an opportunity for re-instatement as determined by the CMC. Items sent to the CMC that are not authorized are subject to all reimbursement costs associated with processing the items. 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.