Business growth affects the entire enterprise. In the best case, employees are actively engaged in making the company successful. Each business unit does its part to meet deadlines, support the contract or perform on the contract per the statement of work and expectations. The worst position for any unit to be in is failing to project the growth and causing a bottleneck in production.

When a defense contractor business grows, the engaged cleared facility security officer (FSO) should be prepared for that growth. The FSO should continue development and maintenance of relationships with employees and key business units. Such interaction allows the FSO to forecast requirements for the storage of classified material, performance of classified work and the protection of the enterprises employees, products, and capital.

Credibility is Key

An FSO should have credibility with the senior management and ability to contribute to a successful growth strategy. They should be able to recommend requirements for hiring and training additional security employees, accurately calculating classified inventory storage and managing classified performance needs. The FSO should be able to address unique contract opportunities such as: classified projects, new facility or alternate locations with new physical security expectation and an increase in classified storage or volume. When the FSO does not have credibility or influence, they will not be prepared to project the growth and will constantly be trying to catch up with the work. Such a posture costs plenty in company overhead.

Additional contracts or change in performance measures may require additional security personnel. A sudden growth in security storage, additional cleared projects, or added facilities, could provide opportunities to hire more personnel to support the increased work load. The FSO should be prepared to provide specific job requirements for security positions. Professional growth potential and management potential, technical competence, and necessary security administrations skills will help the hiring manager search for and select qualified candidates. Potential security professionals should not only be U.S. citizens with security clearances, as required by the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) but demonstrate competence in the tasks they are asked to do and a desire to perform. They should also have the ability to grasp and teach concepts of security to help keep the security fresh in the corporate culture.

Help New Employees Get On Track

The FSO and security specialists should work toward establishing operating procedures and a job performance description. New employees can become successful faster with formalized certification training. This training could reflect the company’s policies as they support NISPOM requirements and the overall enterprise culture. The training and certification program should be unique to the organization and lined with milestones that eventually allow new employees to work unsupervised after demonstrating an understanding of government regulations and company policy. Good sources for developing such a program include the NISPOM and requirements identified in contract statements of work and the DD Forms 254 issued with each classified contract. During the education, the new employee can enroll in additional training provided by the government on-line and in residence, lessons provided by company personnel and any training offered directly under their manager’s supervision. With a good training or certification plan in place, much of the employee’s success can be measured within the first 30 days.

Forecast Future Needs

New opportunities for growth can manifest through additional contracts, modification or renewal of current contracts. New requirements could call for additional facilities for the storage of classified material or the performance of unique work in closed areas. Whether constructing new buildings or modifying current facilities for unique classified work, the job calls for planning, budgeting, and compliance. The FSO is critical to forecasting the unique needs and regulatory requirements.

A new defense contractor may not have all the facilities in place for future growth but should be constantly preparing for solutions as they bid on contracts. For example, suppose a defense contractor needs a conference room to host classified meetings. The FSO would research the requirements and estimated costs of building or modifying space for such a conference room and present it to the executives and senior officers at a minimum. The FSO’s presentation would cover controls necessary to eliminate unauthorized disclosure. Such controls include: limiting access to the room, the conference phone capabilities, the projectors, overhead ceiling panels, doors and other areas requiring protection measures and inspections. Finally approval from the cognizant security agency is necessary once the plan was complete.

The FSO also looks into their security organization to address internal growth. They would conduct research on where the largest growth potential concerning classified holdings would arise. Some resources or tools would be the database where classified information is logged. The NISPOM identifies this as the Information Management System. Such information would be useful to help project where the organization might be in five years at the current and projected growth rates.

Base Solutions On Research, Not Assumptions

Data base research can prevent hasty and inaccurate decisions. For example, an untrained employee may assume that growth would require additional storage shelves for paper documents. However, the security department may be generating and receiving more DVD media and fewer paper products as evidenced in receipts and file data. The FSO would dig deep to find information. Good databases can break down inventory by year, quarter, or any other necessary date range useful for projecting future needs. Such research could help identify classified information that can be destroyed or otherwise eliminated from storage. This would free space and save on future storage and inventory costs. Such a move can save tens of thousands of dollars annually in employee and storage costs, increase the FSOs value and possibly provide a career boost for the FSO.

As a manager of a vital business department, the FSO should be credible and influential. When an FSO’s leadership provides cost reduction through saving resources, time, and finding other alternatives while remaining compliant they establish great credibility. Shareholders at all levels value such behavior and begin to invite such leaders’ input with growth and other strategy plans. Forward thinking FSOs play a valuable role in protecting our nation’s secrets, predicting costs, requirements and help plan for the successful execution and defense of classified contracts.

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Jeffrey W. Bennett is a security consultant with SFPC, SAPPC, ISOC, ISP certifications. He maintains a security blog and newsletter and is the author of many security books including DoD Security Clearance and Contracts Guidebook-What Cleared Contractors Need to Know About Their Need to Know, The Insider’s Guide to Security Clearances, and books on security certification. Visit his website www.redbikepublishing.com for more information.