Wednesday, December 5, 2012

World Class FSO

Olympic competition is just another step in the journey of a world class athlete. The competitors didn’t just wake up and perform spectacular feats; they incorporate winning performance into their daily rituals. They won a seat on the team because of conditioning, determination and dedication. If an athlete breaks records or fails to qualify, the success or failure isn’t the onetime performance. They didn’t just wake up as champions, they prepared.

Leaders are successful for the same reason. Consider the following questions about leaders: What makes them successful? Why are ideas they present more contagious than mine? How are they able to influence major decision makers?

Successful Facility Security Officers (FSO) and other security executives are no different. Just as a world class athlete performs to win; the FSO demonstrates world class security programs designed to protect classified information. These champions impact organizational policy, generate buy in at all levels and successfully integrate security programs into the organization’s DNA. They also are able to demand higher compensation, more impacting positions and stature within the company.

These winners exhibit these four characteristics of world class FSOs:

1. Tie-in security functions with the goals and mission statement

Successful leaders don’t limit themselves to busy work or focus on individual tasks. For example, they focus priorities on supporting the company’s mission instead of touting success with the amount of JPAS transactions or combination changes.

They demonstrate effectiveness by linking security and professional goals with the senior officer’s priorities. For example, suppose the defense contractor’s mission statement is “Provide the warfighter with superior night fighting capability”. The FSO would implement a security program to prevent unauthorized disclosure of classified and unclassified program information. But they don’t stop there. They ensure that everyone understands how the security program is vital to “providing the warfighter with superior night fighting capability”.

The message to the top might go like this:

“Before we proceed with this business development plan, we should review the press release for program information and anything not authorized for public release. Failure to do so may compromise our efforts to provide the warfighter…”

“Let’s considered the ITAR implications for your speech to the World Wide Night Fighter Research Symposium. Since there will be non US persons attending we should…”

“I’ve reviewed the government’s requirements. Are you aware that winning this contract will require us to enhance our security posture? Let me brief you on what you might expect per the NISPOM:”

2. Demonstrate the value of security program to the ability to perform on classified contracts

The first step is to understand the acquisition process and the requirements found in the statement of work, contract and Contract Security Classification Specification (DD Form 254). The proactive FSO gets involved early in contract negotiations and contributes to the customer’s requirements. Without the proper understanding the FSO will not be able to properly advise and guide business development or program actions.

Protecting the nation’s secrets is not just a job for the security department; it should be integrated into the cleared contractor’s culture. When cleared employees understand their roles in protecting the facility security clearance, the entire organization wins. To do this the FSO has to demonstrate his function’s value to protecting classified contracts. It’s not enough for the FSO and staff to protect classified information, but the entire enterprise must own the process.

3. Ensure the FSO reports to the senior executive.

If that’s not possible, then at least report to the same level management as contracts, human resources and other overhead managers. Successful leaders are not buried under many layers of management and bureaucracy, but report directly to the senior officer. When they speak people listen. Business development, engineering, research and development, program management, contracts and others seek out their guidance.

4. Develop policies that are supported and enforced from the top down.

Policies only work when they are owned and supported at the highest levels. Take for example, in processing by human resources, helpdesk requests by the IT department or accident reporting by safety. Those policies are some of the most effective and successful because they have been vetted and accepted by the entire organization. Along with the policies are well published procedures identifying what and how to meet requirements.

Success in any organization is not an overnight accomplishment. Just as the athlete trains to become the world’s best, FSOs should put in the focused work to become champions in their industry. The key is creating security goals and demonstrating how they support the organization’s mission. Create buy in of those goals and communicate goals regularly. Once senior leaders understand the security mission, they can make it part of the corporate make up and easier to execute.

For more information, why not check out DoD Security Clearances and Contracts Guidebook

Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is the owner of Red Bike Publishing Red Bike Publishing . Jeff is an accomplished writer of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals. He also owns Red bike Publishing. Published books include: "Get Rich in a Niche-Insider's Guide to Self Publishing in a Specialized Industry" and "Commitment-A Novel". Jeff is an expert in security and has written many security books including: "Insider's Guide to Security Clearances" and "DoD Security Clearances and Contracts Guidebook", "ISP Certification-The Industrial Security Professional Exam Manual", and NISPOM/FSO Training" See Red Bike Publishing for print copies of: Army Leadership, The Ranger Handbook, The Army Physical Readiness Manual, Drill and Ceremonies, The ITAR,and The NISPOM

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