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The public perspective.

OSAC UPDATE

THE PUBLIC PERSPECTIVE

DO YOU FEEL SECRETARY OF State James Baker will be as supportive of OSAC's programs as George Shultz was?

Letters to corporate CEOs confirming the nomination of new OSAC private security members were signed by the secretary almost immediately after they were sent to him. I was extremely impressed with how quickly they were processed exactly as we requested--no questions asked. Based on that experience, I have no doubt that support for OSAC is intact. We're addressing a topic that is still a priority for the US government--supporting US business efforts overseas.

How has Secretary Baker been briefed on OSAC's responsibilities?

That memo to the CEOs gave concise but complete background information on the Overseas Security Advisory Council. In addition, senior corporate representatives whose security directors, as members of OSAC, have briefed them on its activities have, in turn, briefed senior administration officials, noting OSAC is an effective means of coordinating between the private and public sector.

Do you feel the Bush administration will continue to emphasize public/private cooperation?

Based on everything we've seen so far, there's no doubt about it. All the comments that have reached my level promote American business efforts overseas. It's clearly a priority of the administration, and OSAC supports that objective in a very cost-effective manner through our publications, bulletin board, and other educational materials.

Besides myself, OSAC's government staff includes a contract assistant, several contract analysts, and one employee who heads the Private Sector Liaison Staff. This small staff interfaces with almost 900 parent corporations on the OSAC mailing list. That's a very cost-effective ratio.

We have generated a favorable response in Congress as well by distributing our publications on Capitol Hill. We expect that support to continue, especially since our next publication will focus on emergency planning guidelines for American businesses abroad, an issue clearly in the forefront of congressional concern.

How would you assess OSAC's challenges in the coming years?

One of the first will be to replace Jack Ingersoll who, after July, will no longer be OSAC's private sector representative. He is returning to IBM as that company's director of security in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and will be based in Paris.

After July do you expect there will be another permanent person in his position?

We will be discussing various options at our July OSAC meeting. We have at least one possibility for a permanent replacement, but it's not going to be easy. Jack came from a very responsible security position, and both he and his company were able to give a great deal of support in the formation of OSAC and its programs. Since then, however, the organization of OSAC has become more formalized, and the council has changed its view of the position's requirements. We do not need, as was originally envisioned, someone to fill staff functions. We can do that through our private sector liaison staff, my assistants, and myself. Instead, we are looking for someone with a substantial security background, preferably overseas, which is a difficult order to fill.

In the interim, we have focused on the position's major work requirements and distributed them within the council. We established an OSAC committee to support the minicouncils overseas. The executive working group members, working with me, will take a more active role in reviewing prospective OSAC members and making recommendations to the chairman.

In addition, much of what Jack did was blaze a trail for OSAC's initial projects. Before he left, he analyzed the minicouncil programs--what was needed and what types of support should be provided by OSAC's executive staff and by the private sector representatives. He helped form a strategic planning process, which involves members of the executive working group and chairmen of the committees. Yearly, that group will review suggestions from the corporate security community as to what OSAC should be doing next.

What do you see ahead for the minicouncils, for example?

The future of the minicouncils, especially with the formation of a new OSAC committee on minicouncils chaired by Ed Birch of Occidental, is very bright. One especially exciting development resulted from a meeting held recently at the US Embassy in London. The chairmen of the various European minicouncils attended and formed a European Security Advisory Council. Jack Ingersoll was elected chairman, and the secretary will be Brian West of Citicorp in Great Britain, who is chairman of the minicouncil there.

Representatives from the UK, France, Belgium, Greece, West Germany, and Spain participated. A private sector representative from the Netherlands attended, although a formal council has not yet been formed there. Representatives from Portugal and Austria are in the process of establishing minicouncils as well and will become members.

In addition to Ed Brich and myself from the US, George Murphy, OSAC's vice chairman, attended as did Bob Lamb. Lamb is the State Department's assistant secretary for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and, in effect, supervises the chairman of OSAC, Clark Dittmer.

Lamb addressed the group and outlined what the State Department is doing to support the private sector and what is planned for the future. He discussed the establishment of additional minicouncils and upgrades of the electronic bulletin board. He explained he wanted to learn from the group what else could be done in Washington to assist US private enterprises overseas. Lamb said while he was there to respond to questions, he also wanted to listen to and ask questions of the corporate representatives and the others who were present.

In addition, chairmen from each minicouncil in Europe outlined the status of the minicouncil in that country. Four embassy regional security officers (RSO) from countries where minicouncils had been formed gave their views of what was good and what needed to be improved regarding minicouncil support from Washington and from within a particular country.

The group clearly was interested in coordinating among themselves, which was the phenomenon we had hoped to achieve--namely, that the private sector can help itself by networking and discussing security issues of mutual concern, not just within a particular country but as American corporate representatives traveling in other countries. Many who attended have regional responsibilities and travel a lot.

How many of the group were foreign nationals as opposed to American citizens working overseas?

The numbers were about equally divided, which mirrors our experience wherever we've established minicouncils, be it in the Middle East or South and Central America.

What about the mix of security versus nonsecurity managers on the minicouncils?

The vast preponderance of minicouncil corporate representatives are not security professionals. The exceptions are in London, Paris, and Brussels. Very few major corporations assign security professionals with regional responsibility abroad. That is one reason the minicouncils have been particularly useful. Individuals can network and discuss issues that the State Department shares with the RSO.

We have tried to improve that coordination by including, to the extent possible, the embassy's director of the foreign commercial service--the commercial attache--as a member of the local minicouncil. The commercial attache deals with US corporate representatives on a daily basis. Frequently, that person has much more private sector contact than the embassy's regional security officer and is in the best position to know what the corporate world's security concerns will be in a specific locale. By including the commercial attache on the minicouncil, we tie in the assets of the embassy that can best support the private sector.

Have you been successful in efforts to include other government agencies in Washington in OSAC's programs?

Yes. The corporate world is interested in whatever assistance they can get from the embassy as a whole. We learned that lesson from our first efforts to establish minicouncils abroad. We needed to do more than just include security representatives.

For example, we are working more closely now with the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. A senior representative of that bureau, Georgia Rogers, who is the deputy chief of the Citizen's Emergency Center in Washington, addressed an OSAC meeting several months ago. The Citizen's Emergency Center is responsible for emergencies involving American citizens overseas. That agency issues the State Department's travel advisories, which are now available on OSAC's electronic bulletin board. As a result of these coventures, we have asked Rogers to write a chapter for our new publication, Emergency Planning Guidelines for American Businesses Abroad, which should be released in November.

Also, we are working with sectors of Amnesty International and the Foreign Commercial Service. Frequently, we use the American Chamber of Commerce when trying to reach out to the corporate world and discuss the threat situation or coordinate emergency planning. Through our associations with the Department of Commerce, we are now including representatives of the Agency for International Development (AID) on the council. AID has a major role to play overseas because they deal with contractors. Their director of security has helped us work with other elements in AID to assist with mutual concerns such as emergency planning.

Jack Ingersol pointed out the need for a freer sharing of information from the public sector to the private sector. Do you have any views on how that might happen and whether it's a realistic goal?

Even though everyone in the government may not agree, there's no question the private sector would like more information. The corporate security community overseas feels an obligation to bring its top management up to date on international issues, and they need to know facts because they will be queried.

One of OSAC's goals is to encourage the sharing of more comprehensive information on the US government's structure for coping with such issues as terrorism, including airline threats. Misunderstandings can occur largely because the private sector doesn't know everything the US government is doing. OSAC can bring the parties together. Prominent senior corporate security officials on the council can explain corporate viewpoints and concerns. At the same time, senior US government officials can exchange information and conduct a dialogue.

As a first step we procured the congressional testimony given by Ambassador Clay McMannaway of the Office of Combating Terrorism following the crash of Pan Am Flight 103 and distributed it to council members. The response from those who received the testimony was very favorable. Ambassador McMannaway's remarks reduced the number of questions about the incident from the private sector because it provided background information that was simply not available previously about what actually happened.

We also sent out the most recent information provided in that speech by Secretary Skinner. Council members found it very helpful to know, for example, what the Helsinki hoax was all about, what information was or was not available, and why the FAA aviation alerts are not disseminated via traveler advisories.

By providing a forum for representatives of the intelligence community, OSAC can encourage dialogue useful to the corporate world. At least government agencies can explain their policies, because even they seem unclear to the private sector.

Ambassador McMannaway voiced this view when he spoke to the council last spring. Despite speeches and comments to Congress made by him and others following the Pan Am incident, the feeling still persisted that not everything had been explained, that information was being withheld. That's why we gave out his testimony before he spoke to the council.

A very candid discussion was conducted at that meeting about the corporate world's interest in receiving the maximum amount of information on threats and the procedures that could be put in place for accomplishing that goal. Frankly, there was a lack of unanimity among council members on how much can be disseminated productively. Airline security representatives who work with these issues daily say it's very difficult to provide much more information since many threats come through vague telephone calls.

Have the minicouncils facilitated the exchange of information at the local level, between the embassies and the private sector?

I think we're doing a much better job in that regard. Before he left, Jack Ingersoll wrote an extensive memo on support for minicouncils overseas--what lessons have been learned, what can be done to establish more, how they can provide timely information to the private sector, and who should be included on minicouncils.

That memo, with a cover letter from Clark Dittmer, was sent recently to every RSO in the world. So the RSOs have all been told that it is indeed the policy to give out the maximum amount of unclassified information available in a timely way. The letter also pointed out that OSAC now can reach most of the corporate world through its mailing list. These corporations support the exchange of information, from the corporate side as well as from the embassies, so a better information base can be formed.

Can classification guidelines be loosened so more information can be made available?

We have asked the field offices to look, whenever possible, at classified information with the ultimate goal of extracting an unclassified version that could warn those who might need to be alerted. We worked on that in the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service several years ago in conjunction with the intelligence community, and it's not an easy task. But State Department officials should be able to give some type of alert if a security threat appears to be credible within the intelligence community.

What has been the feedback from the RSOs to that kind of a proposal?

One of the reasons we brought veteran RSOs from major European posts to the minicouncil meeting in London was to address that issue. Without question, those RSOs felt more comfortable complying with the procedures following that meeting. RSOs around the world know what's expected of them, and they have Ingersoll's memo and Dittmer's cover letter to explain further. And they know the private sector liaison staff is available to coordinate the dissemination of information with parent corporations if they feel it should be shared but would find it awkward to do that locally. Sometimes letting the parent office know first is appropriate because that is where the decisions are made.

We have work to do, but we think we're working better. I know more information is getting to the embassies from the private sector. But whenever you exchange security information, there's no question difficulties can arise because of the need to protect sources and methods. No one states, as was claimed some years ago, that information cannot be shared at all because sources have to be protected. Everyone in the State Department has that policy change in writing.

But the flow of information can still be improved. While embassy officials may learn about an incident through some classified source, they may also hear the same information from the local media, a corporation, or another unclassified source. That version can then be used as the source for further discussion.

Do you see OSAC becoming more involved with US government policy making, for example, advising what the impact of a policy might be on the private sector?

Yes. The Office for Combating Terrorism is involved strictly with policy, and that was one of the issues that was brought up in our discussions with Ambassador McMannaway. As a council, we would like to continue dialogue with that office and become a key player in the setting of US government counter-terrorism policy overseas. Ambassador McMannaway concurred. He felt getting the corporate viewpoint on overseas security issues would indeed be helpful. There's no question we can have an effect on issues that affect the corporate world.

We hope to continue a similar dialogue on policy with other key players in Washington. We will be discussing corporate views on airline safety with a senior FAA official in the near future. We think we can be helpful especially because several major corporations establish policies on employee travel on aircraft from Europe and the Middle East to the west. Following the crash of Pan Am Flight 103, several of those policies were not in accord with what US carriers felt was a correct analysis of the security threat. By being the catalyst for a dialogue between senior corporate representatives and US government officials responsible for setting policy, OSAC can play a useful role in promoting security cooperation.

Do you see OSAC moving ahead on other fronts?

Emergency planning has become a significant issue within the council. We issued a booklet called Crises Management Guidelines several years ago. In the context of that period, those involved felt its content was sufficient. But now the corporate security community represented on the council wants more. Therefore, we are developing a second booklet, Emergency Planning Guidelines, and anticipate producing more nuts-and-bolts emergency planning information, such as how to establish a crisis management center or crisis simulations.

The council is interested in doing more in security education in general, notably in explaining to the corporate world what embassy officials can do to support private initiatives. The minicouncils fill that role in part, but many corporate executives travel to posts where there is no minicouncil. We need to let them know in general who they can talk to and what type of support is available, not just from the RSO but from other embassy personnel as well.

A primary goal for OSAC continues to be its electronic bulletin board. A major upgrade in the software will take place in the near future. Our legal division and computer staff are reviewing recommendations from OSAC's Committee on Information Interchange on access requests from groups other than those included originally. We're getting as many as 10 requests a week from associations, travel organizations, and others. Firms that are incorporated in the US but would normally be thought of as non-US corporations are contacting us. Security consultants now can have access, which is a major change since they represent a number of corporations. We want to be helpful, but we have to determine our resource and legal limitations.

How would you assess OSAC as an example of public/private cooperation?

That cooperation was particularly evident following the Pan Am incident. While FAA takes the lead in these matters, OSAC was able to pull all the players together and discuss it. In fact, at our meeting in London, a representative of Pan Am attended because he happened to be in the area. We had several IBM representatives there as well. Quite a candid discussion ensued, but I think a very helpful one.

The corporate representatives brought up other topics that were sore spots--like the rumor that some bureaucrat didn't take Pan Am 103 because they had been forewarned. We in the Diplomatic Security Service were especially sensitive to that complaint because we lost several agents on that aircraft.

Who decides what topics OSAC should focus on?

We have taken the view that whatever the corporate world would like us to discuss, as expressed by the council, will be addressed. And we're prepared to close down any time the corporate world doesn't think OSAC is a valuable forum. But based on requests for membership on the council, I think we'll be functioning for quite a while.

We're fortunate to have some of the very best corporate security directors on the council. They bring up whatever they know from their professional contacts the corporate security world might be interested in having us address--in large measure, I think, because we've been successful in resolving problems in the past. In that way, we reach out beyond the 25 council members.

Some ideas, however, are beyond OSAC's mandate. In the council's current view, topics like narcotics, international fraud, or computer security overseas fall outside its definition of security. Should the council decide addressing them is a priority, we would have to revise OSAC's charter, and we don't feel that is an appropriate direction. We must limit ourselves to the security issues that OSAC was established to address--emergency planning, coordination of security plans overseas, and the exchange of security information. We think the support from OSAC requested by the private sector falls within these categories, and groups within the federal law enforcement community can address other issues.

We can, however, invite an appropriate government official to speak on a particular topic. Everyone is anxious to have a forum where they can make their corporate viewpoint known, and OSAC has and will continue to provide one.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
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Publication:Security Management
Article Type:interview
Date:Aug 1, 1989
Words:3373
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