Jeffrey Bennett

JeffJeffrey Bennett is an author and columnist with articles appearing in Military Lifestyle, On Mission, Security Management and many other magazines and publications. His full time job is as a security specialist directing and implementing programs to protect national security.

“A person cannot be put in for a clearance unless they are in a job that requires a clearance. So, I tell everyone to be the best at what they do, get the job, then let the company process the clearance request.”

Jeff, we first started discussing security a year or so ago when I first saw an article in Security Management Magazine. You wrote “The Industrial Security Professional Exam Manual” and now you are working on a second book called “Managing the security of classified Information and Contracts”. How did you originally get involved in security?

First, let me take the opportunity to thank you for inviting me to the interview. I think this is a great venue for your readers (including me) to learn more about our chosen field. My experience in security is rather accidental. Believe it or not, I actually tried to avoid it all of my life. I worked in security for about 9 months when I got out of my first stint in the army and did not like the job one bit. In fact, I was just short of being fired when I decided to rejoin the Army.

Years later I decided to get out of the Army again and move back to Alabama. While taking time to reflect on my future career options, my sister recommended that I interview with a defense contractor as a security specialist. I balked immediately, but soon rethought my options. After a few months I realized that I loved what I was doing. The difference is, I know myself better. I decided to form my career around my personality, the skills I learned and my natural talents. For example, I love leadership, writing, and planning. I’ve applied those features to security and have done very well. Others like technology, organization, filing, administration, etc and they are applying and doing equally as well in the security field. I’ve been loving what I’ve been doing ever since. By the way, after all these years, I finally bumped into my old boss at a local security conference. I apologized profusely for my bad performance all those years ago. Now she attends my ISP Certification classes and all has been forgotten.

What made you decide to write your first book?

I’ve written a novel out of the pure love of writing. However, my second effort was the book ISP Certification-The Industrial Security Professional Exam Manual. I began to write the book immediately after taking and passing the ISP Certification exam. I thought if I could pass it, I could take what I learned in my security career and help others study for and pass the test. I put in test taking tips, a small study of the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual and wrote over 400 questions to help others in their study efforts and build their confidence in their knowledge.
I’m very fortunate to have been able to help others pass the test after using my study system. Since creating the book, I’ve had spin-off products that continue to support those in the security field. I’ve even created a group on LinkedIn for those who have the ISP Certification and those who want to learn http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1816119

With a focus on where physical security meets information security, what do you see in the future regarding PII in general?
Facility Security Officers (FSO’s) request and maintain security clearance information, perform security violation investigations and take adverse information reports from employees. All of which contains social security numbers and personal data. Protecting this information is paramount for many reasons. I recommend that these FSO’s coordinate with Human Resources as well as stay abreast of privacy laws. Government policy and regulations (National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual and executive orders) have changed in the past few years to better protect employee data.

Has physical security changed (devices, posture or storage) as a result of the War on terror?

Physical security changes are primarily visible on and around government installation and buildings. After September 11th we saw increased security posture as a nation with threat levels being posted at airports, again in government buildings and installations and major hubs of transportation. Security managers should take a look at true threats before making huge physical security adjustments in their companies. Threat analysis and risk management should be considered to address real problems. Any proposed physical security changes should address threats. Security managers should be able to speak the language of business to the senior managers and present real solutions based on the analysis. .=

Is your second book going to be based on a certain certification?

My second book “Managing the Security of Classified Information and Contracts” teaches organizations how to perform on classified contracts. There is even a chapter covering export compliance. Based on regulations and policy, this book provides security specialists, contractors, vendors, students, and government employees with fundamental information to help improve their security programs. There are real world references to espionage cases and examples of companies with good programs. It is also a great resource for those companies just getting into government contracting or desiring to get into government contracting. The book is due to the publisher in July.

How would a person go about obtaining a clearance for entering into government project related security?

Work on selling your skills and abilities at the interview. The common thought is that one has to have a clearance to get the work. However, it’s just the opposite. A security clearance is based upon a contractual need. They go hand in hand and defense contractors plan for long waits after hiring a candidate. For example, a company has a position open that requires an engineer with a security clearance. The defense contractor will hire a qualified engineer. If the engineer has a clearance; that’s great. If not, then the contractor can request an investigation for the engineer to get the required clearance. Unfortunately, one cannot be put in for a clearance unless they are in a job that requires a clearance. So, I tell everyone to be the best at what they do, get the job, then let the company process the clearance request.

With our current economy effecting an idividuals personal finances do you think it will be harder to find people who can meet the stringent requirements you have spelled out in past articles you have written?

Financial issues are one aspect of the security clearance investigation process. However, just because a subject has had financial hardships (bankruptcy, late payments, foreclosure, etc) does not mean their clearance will be denied. The process also requires adjudication where a decision is made based on the “whole person” concept. In other words, the adjudicator will look into circumstances and situations causing the hardship. There is a great book out there that addresses some of these issues called “Security Clearance Manual: How To Reduce The Time It Takes To Get Your Government Clearance” by William H. Henderson that helps address such issues.

Jeffrey W. Bennett
Author of ISP Certification-The Industrial Security Professional Exam Manual
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