In his address at NSI IMPACT 2023, Director William Lietzau said that life at the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) isn’t exactly glamorous – but it’s important. He noted that it’s the same thing for the Facility Security Officer (FSO). Lietzau said, “The threats are long term that we work on.”

And that’s because security goes beyond the immediate landscape. He said, “We’re working right now on the world that future children will enter into.”

He noted that Hollywood may not be clamoring to make a DCSA movie, but that means that we’re doing things correctly. When security is done correctly, nothing happens – and that’s the goal.

It’s challenging to not be able to measure how many spies were stopped and how much damage was avoided. Threats avoided or mitigated is the only metric, and it’s almost impossible to quantify the damage avoided. However, insider threats like Edward Snowden still impact national security today.

Lietzau commented on how everyone is aware of the recent news of Jack Teixeira, but it’s easy to forget other spies or insider threats who have also inflicted damage on U.S. national security. Understanding the threats that impact our country requires us to take the long view. Lietzau encouraged security professionals to keep the bigger picture in mind.

Personnel and Industrial Security Landscape

Lietzau noted that the personnel security process has completed major improvements. Under continuous vetting (CV), DCSA is able to receive actionable alerts. Agencies are learning about risk factors earlier in the process and as a result, are able to take action with clearance holders much sooner. Whether those risk factors are able to be mitigated or result in a clearance revocation, it’s all possible because we can know more due to recent changes. But it’s challenging for policy to keep pace with an ever-changing adversary.

However, the industrial security process has moved up on the priority list. Our supply chain faces many challenges. Lietzau noted that it’s challenging to balance improving the processing time for facilities with gatekeeping which facilities should be holding clearances. Lietzau noted that the 200 days for processing for facilities should go down. But just this past year, DCSA had to either revoke or invalidate a number of facility clearances. Lietzau said, “The threat is out there.”

Policymaker Versus Policy Implementer

DCSA plays a vital role as the gatekeeper in national security, but Lietzau noted that they are implementing policies – not making them. And he confirmed that industrial security policy is in the process of catching up to the improvements that have been made in personnel security.

Lietzau confirmed that “there’s been a wakeup call on upping our game here. It’s a more complicated playing field.”

He also noted that there will be an updated National Industrial Security System (NISS). The team at DCSA is working to enhance NISS in version 2.0 that will be deployed across DoD  acquisition and supply chain operators.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.