When it comes to national security, it truly takes a village. Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) Director William Lietzau addressed NCMS Seminar attendees on day two of the annual gathering of security professionals.
“This is a team sport. DCSA can’t do it alone,” said Lietzau. In order to track what changes need to be made and assess current or future threats, all players need to collaborate. Everyone plays a role and provides a different angle that helps create the picture of the adversary.
DCSA has grown from just 800 employees to over 10,000 with the merger of the National Background Investigation Bureau (NBIB) with the Defense Security Service (DSS). Organizational change doesn’t change the nature of what the organization does, however. DCSA is still America’s gatekeeper, and its new status gives it insight from multiple vantage points into the daily fight against adversaries. Counterterrorism efforts have been strengthened for the past two decades, but right now, near peer adversaries require a different response. Near peer adversaries are trying to influence defense contractors, mess with classified systems, and steal technologies, which is far more sophisticated than what we faced two decades ago. While we were fighting terrorists, near peer adversaries were growing.
The key threat today is industrial security. DCSA continues to keep the crown jewels – the industrial base – safe. While personnel security is critical, the investment in personnel and industrial security will need to be better aligned going forward.
CUI, SECURITY REVIEWS, AND SECURITY TIMELINES
Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) continues to be rolled out. Lietzau emphasized the DCSA commitment to provide better oversight, education, and support for government and contractor implementation. Another key issue is security clearance processing times – which have had drastic improvement over the past year.
“We’re shooting for 40 days for a Secret clearance, currently at 50 days,” Lietzau says. We need to balance allowing professionals to get in the door quickly but at the same time focusing on quality. “We need to ensure we don’t let the wrong people into the trusted workforce.” Lietzau confirmed that many cases have been cleared out, and Top Secret is in the 70 day average. Continuous vetting is going well. The future move to the National Background Investigation System (NBIS) will create a system that takes us through adjudication and adds the ability to monitor employees throughout their career – high and low side checks. A year ago, NBIS didn’t meet all those requirements.
Since NBIB and NBIS just came to DCSA in October 2020, now with the old and new systems all in one place, DCSA can move forward. However, NBIS needs to not just be working, but also built to meet needs. The JPAS to DISS movement was slowed down to make sure it was ready. While DCSA doesn’t own or have funding for JPAS, we can check it as needed. As of October 2020, DCSA now fully owns DISS, and NBIS and DISS are co-located. Lietzau noted they are doing the work now to ensure a clean transition to NBIS.
Technology remains a key security risk, but improved technology is also key to improvements at DCSA. As the agency continues to move forward, it will take proactive efforts by security officers, employees, and industry to identify and combat threats.
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