Printer Friendly

The private perspective.

OSAC UPDATE

THE PRIVATE PERSPECTIVE

WAS IT A DIFFICULT decision for you to move out of the IBM corporate structure to temporarily become OSAC's first full-time, private sector staff representative?

I never moved out of the IBM corporate structure. While my assignment with OSAC has been full-time, I have done some work for IBM as well. I haven't completely separated myself from my company. While my status with OSAC is no longer full-time, I will continue to work with the staff through July.

When you came into this new position in late 1987, how did you envision your job would take shape?

The executive working group of OSAC had prepared an outline of what was expected. Although it wasn't a formal job description, the outline included such activities as developing public awareness about OSAC's work through speaking assignments and establishing minicouncils overseas. While the job followed that model reasonably well, its responsibilities expanded. For example, I also worked closely with the OSAC committees, particularly when they were first getting started.

Of the committee projects you were involved in, which ones did you feel were particularly important?

The Committee on Emergency Management is preparing a fourth publication, which will focus on emergency management guidelines for American enterprises overseas. The book will be very comprehensive. One chapter will update and expand the committee's current publication, Crisis Management Guidelines. The new book will discuss ways of dealing with emergencies such as natural disasters, accidents, and hostile activities.

The Public Awareness Committee has expanded its alert overseas kid or A-OK campaign. They have other projects on the table now, including one that will relate to emergency management guidelines. They hope to develop simulations so people can practice reacting to an emergency.

How have the OSAC committee projects been received in foreign cities?

The booklets in particular have been very well received. The first step in the A-OK project was a video and a contest, and the response, especially to the contest, was very high. Now the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security is developing other materials on security and safety, which will be introduced into American schools overseas at the first through sixth grade levels.

Were you involved in establishing OSAC's bulletin board?

I was the critic on the hearth. Even though I work for a computer company, I'm not a computer expert so I don't want to take too much credit for the bulletin board. It took time and attention on the part of many people to get that project launched.

My role was to expedite the bulletin board by helping OSAC's Information Interchange Committee develop it, but not from a technical or substantive point of view. I offered my opinions, which occasionally were implemented. If technical assistance was needed we brought in experts from the private sector. The computer program was rewritten during the summer of 1988 and users beyond the council members were added in the fall.

What else were you involved in that you had not expected?

I worked extensively with the executive working group of OSAC meeting prospective council members at their organizations and making membership recommendations. I provided names to the executive working group, which in turn made recommendations to the State Department. Invitations to actually join the council are issued by the secretary of state.

That effort was valuable, I think, because someone from the private sector can evaluate the quality of potential members better than persons from the state department. The council needs members experienced in international security activities. So I basically looked for individuals who had stature in the field and had significant international experience and responsibility.

While potential members are aware of their obligations, they also need the direct support of their company's chief executive officer, and I made sure the company was willing to commit before making my recommendations. The council today no longer has any charter members still in the group, so we have experienced a large turnover in membership. Of the 21 current private sector members, more than 50 percent have joined the group in the last 15 months.

How would you evaluate this turnover?

Turnover avoids the council being labeled as an exclusive clique. It also brings in new ideas and fresh leadership. In addition, I think it would be unfair to ask a company to support a member indefinitely. The term should have a limit. Because of their corporate stature, council members hold responsible jobs. Still, many give 20 days or more a year to council activities. That's taking people away from their jobs for a significant amount of time. I don't think any company should be asked to provide that kind of commitment for more than two or three years.

What did you hope to achieve in this position?

I wanted to contribute to the organization and structure of OSAC and to the stature of the council as a whole. My original goals were based on information I had been provided. New goals were developed as the job became better defined.

For example, we had intended to establish only seven or eight minicouncils as pilot programs. In fact, 15 minicouncils are functioning and another five are in various stages of organization. In addition, we are in the process of organizing a European minicouncil so the concerns of companies operating throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa can be addressed.

I categorize the minicouncils into three groups: those that are functioning fairly well, those that still need some help, and those that are still on the drawing board.

Minicouncils are functioning well in Lima, Athens, Paris, and London. The one in Seoul was doing very well especially during the Olympics. The second group includes places I visited but where the minicouncil hasn't developed officially.

One country has a rather paranoid government so the US business organizations involved in setting up the minicouncil have to be certain the government understands the purpose of such an organization--it's not clandestine, it does not violate local laws, and it is not some supersecret intelligence organization. Nonetheless, the US business community is very willing and anxious to initiate a minicouncil, but they have to deal with the politics of the environment first.

In other areas, the community does not seem interested because they do not perceive a need. The major purpose of the minicouncils, in addition to providing a structured interface with the embassy, is to exchange information--to educate and advise the business community at large. In my opinion, that's the most exciting objective of the whole project.

Did you find embassy officials open to the minicouncil concept?

I think they were willing to cooperate, but sometimes the implementation was not always the greatest. If anything was missing, it was probably an understanding of what we were trying to achieve. Some regional security officers (RSO) were concerned that this new group was going to increase their already overburdened work load. However, they actually found the minicouncils provided them with a structure to interface with the private sector, allowing them to use their time more effectively and more productively. While initially their work load might increase, over the long run they benefited because the interaction was more efficient.

Could you envision a time when you might be forming a minicouncil in an Eastern Bloc city, for example, Moscow?

It would be difficult to dispel the perception that the activities of such a group would be clandestine. Many American firms don't have employees who reside in the Soviet Union; the staff lives in a Western European country and moves into a Soviet hotel when necessary. The business's administration is often in the hands of Soviet citizens who are provided by government employment agencies. Circumstances may change under Gorbachev's new policies, but based on my experience, interested parties would have a better chance of forming a minicouncil successfully if they met outside the Soviet Union rather than inside.

That's why we started the program as a pilot project--to learn these facts. As a result of our experience in forming minicouncils, I drafted a concept paper for OSAC's executive working group. That document eventually became recommendations to the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security on how minicouncils should be formed and how they should be followed up afterwards.

What was included in your recommendations?

Four factors need to be addressed before a minicouncil can be established in a country. First, all parties must be sure it can be done legally, that the host government does not have laws or regulations that prohibit such an organization.

Second, both the public and private sectors must recognize the need for such an organization. The participants must see the value because they need to be prepared for human hostilities, natural disasters, or catastrophic accidents, for example. We all have enough projects to complete and meetings to attend, so if no real need for a minicouncil exists, why create one?

Third, private sector leadership for the minicouncil has to come forward within the community. People must be willing to commit to it and manage it, because it is a private sector responsibility. The embassy is not responsible for managing the minicouncil beyond helping to establish it. Once it's established, the continuation of the council is up to the private sector. The private sector elects the chairman and the steering committee and sets up committees to address local needs.

Finally, the embassy staff has to be willing to commit to the council and contribute to its success. This commitment has to come not only from the regional security officers, but also from the counsulate officers and the commercial officers.

If these four factors are in place, the minicouncil has a good chance of being successful. Some minicouncils have functioned well even though no specific threats are of immediate concern--for example, in Paris. But that council has good leaders, and they have found issues other than terrorism or emergencies to research, study, and discuss. They are very interested in the protection of proprietary information, specifically trade secrets, and have held meetings and seminars on related subjects. So minicouncils can serve many purposes.

Are most of the minicouncil participants Americans or foreign nationals?

It's a mix. In one minicouncil in Germany, all the participants are German. They have great faith in their public agencies' ability to deal with issues that affect Germany. As a result, the group is not necessarily convinced they need a formalized minicouncil. But they are functioning as one nonetheless.

Not all minicouncil members are in security either. In fact, that's one of the good features of the minicouncils. They bring together a mixture of security professionals and line managers. As a result, line management gets a better appreciation for security concerns and security know-how.

In the Athens minicouncil, for example, the chairman is the general manager of the local Marriott hotel who is an American but not a security professional. Having persons from other management disciplines only increases security awareness in general. They become aware of security issues and talk to their counterparts in the community. The result is more people have the resources to deal with problems.

We also try to associate the minicouncils with an established business organization, such as the American Chamber of Commerce. This alliance helps ensure the council is part of the local business community and is meeting the business community's needs. Having members who are nonsecurity professionals as part of the council cements that bond even more.

Looking to the future, what issues could OSAC attempt to address that would be most helpful to you in your new position with IBM?

I would like to see a freer and more open exchange of information.

How willing are embassy officials to share information with the private sector?

I saw an improvement, but we are not where we want to be yet, partly because of the way information is handled throughout the government. There has to be more openness and a better agreement on what should be shared. Some information is classified for absolutely ridiculous reasons, for example. And I'm hoping the council will address that issue soon.

On the other hand, the RSOs have to abide by the government's rules and regulations on the kind and amount of information that can be exchanged with the private sector. We've begun to open the door so at least the private sector gets unclassified information. Now I think we have to go further and address the process of how information becomes classified in the first place, for what reasons, and how classified information can be sanitized so more information can be released.

We all want to protect sources and methods of gathering intelligence. But there are ways of providing information so that sources can still be protected. In the private sector, we do that all the time. We have to share what we collect with our bosses or the information doesn't do us any good. Government investigative agencies aren't the only ones that have classified sources and methods of collecting information.

We're all loyal Americans. Most of us have had government careers ourselves. Defense contractors, for example, have access to certain classified information they need for developing their products. I think we have to find a way to copy that approach in our overseas operations.

What about the private sector? Does it need to change its practices as well to help the liaison work better?

Frankly, I think the private sector is willing to share anything except proprietary information with government agencies because we depend on their assistance. To get what we need we have to be forthcoming. I can imagine scenarios where we might withhold information--for example, if we had an ongoing sensitive problem and the lives of employees were at stake, then I think we would choose to deal with it in a fairly closed manner until the emergency was over. But still we probably would share information confidentially with an agency we needed to turn to for help.

The issue is not easy to resolve, but both sides are going to have to address it. I have been thinking about it for more than a year, and I don't have a solution.

Do you think some of the misconceptions that plague the relationship between the government and the private sector are finally being put to rest?

I think there is and has been an honest desire for cooperation within the State Department. George Shultz initiated the Overseas Security Advisory Council and, in his public statements, largely mirrored what I have said about the need for interaction and cooperation. Certainly the Bureau of Diplomatic Security has a strong desire to carry out that policy. At least at the top levels, I have seen a willingness to do everything possible to comply with what the secretary mandated.

Were the State Department officials you worked with receptive to private sector suggestions and initiatives?

Yes. Ralph Laurello and I had a completely equal relationship and worked together as partners.

With the changes in many key positions and the change in administration, do you view this as a critical time for OSAC?

The new private sector leaders are outstanding. George Murphy is the new vice chairman of OSAC. On the State Department side, Clark Dittmer has done very well as chairman of OSAC and has been very supportive as has Bob Lamb, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. I think the quality of leadership from both the government and the private sector is continuing at a very high level.

What do you see as the most promising project OSAC will be involved with for the future?

The leadership of OSAC wants to continue servicing the needs of its constituents, American business organizations. But they also want to become more active in providing advice and counsel to the State Department on how a certain government decision might affect the security of American businesses operating overseas. The group is called the secretary of state's Overseas Security Advisory Council, and I think the people who will be leading the council in the future would like to see that title become a reality.

OSAC programs to date have come at the suggestion of the council members; the minicouncils, the bulletin board, the private sector liaison group, the training programs, and the publications were intended to be helpful to the security community. Now I think the group wants to raise its sights. They want to address policy matters and advise the executive branch of government on the impact of policy decisions on the security of American businesses abroad. American businesspeople can be put in danger because of a policy decision made in a vacuum.

For example, what will be the effect on private citizens living in drug-producing countries if a zero tolerance drug policy is implemented and people traveling by air are held up for hours while the aircraft and luggage are searched? To a businessperson, that delay is costly, not to mention inconvenient. If a zero tolerance policy is deemed to be necessary, then if public and private groups work together perhaps a better way of stopping contraband from coming into this country can be found.

What do you feel you are leaving undone?

A lot still needs to be done, which is one reason why I'm not going away completely. I would have liked to see another person come into a position similar to mine for another year. But given the current state of the economy, not many companies have the resources to support such a position. At IBM, loaning an executive to the government is an established practice. IBM has not only paid my salary but has also paid my living expenses plus any difference in travel expenses between what the government has reimbursed and what was actually spent, so my company has made a substantial contribution to this project. I would like to have seen another company step forward with a comparable offer.

I would also like to have seen a greater success rate among the minicouncils. Organizations of this type can rarely be established after one visit. In many cases the organizer needs to make several trips, and there just wasn't enough time.

Even so, I think the Overseas Security Advisory Council is one of the most valuable cooperative undertakings between the government and the private sector I've ever seen. Having worked on both sides of the fence, the interaction is absolutely crucial. And OSAC is the best example I have seen anyplace.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:interview
Date:Aug 1, 1989
Words:3073
Previous Article:Nissan and the security zone.
Next Article:Perimeter protection - define, detect, and defend.
Topics:


Related Articles
THE BUZZ : MSNBC PUTS RIVALRY ASIDE FOR BARBARA WALTERS SPECIAL.
Gleaning value from the exit interview. (Human Resources).
Employment discrimination litigation; behavioral, quantitative and legal perspectives.
Catalyst.
Ambivalence in Psychotherapy: Facilitating Readiness to Change.
Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews.
The challenges of Indian management.
Communal feminisms; Chicanas, Chilenas, and cultural exile; theorizing the space of exile, class, and identity.
Turbocharging your board assessment: have your performance evaluation initiatives run out of gas? Here is what some of the best boards are doing to...
Pressure sessions: learning how to conquer a panel interview.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters