The Defense Security Service of the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded Virginia Tech the James S. Cogswell Award for Outstanding Industrial Security, an achievement earned by less than 1 percent of defense contractors annually.

Only 42 defense contractors out of more than 13,500 inspected through the National Industrial Security Program received a Cogswell Award this year.

“Virginia Tech has knowledgeable, thorough people in place to ensure information sensitive to our country’s security is protected as we conduct research or perform work,” said Theresa Mayer, vice president for research and innovation. “We are honored to receive this award and pleased our faculty and staff members have been recognized for their commitment to a security program that far exceeds the basic National Industrial Security Program requirements.”

This is Virginia Tech’s first Cogswell Award, which is bestowed by the Defense Security Service as part of its effort to protect national security by providing oversight and education on behalf of the Department of Defense and other U.S. agencies.

The Defense Security Service regional office nominated Virginia Tech for the award after inspecting the university’s facility clearance program for handling classified materials. Over the last four inspection cycles, Virginia Tech’s security program has been evaluated as “superior,” the highest ranking issued by the Defense Security Service.

The award was presented in June during the annual National Classification Management Society training seminar in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Virginia Tech has tailored its industrial security program to provide effective security in a university setting while not adversely affecting traditional academic and research activities — a significant challenge,” said David Brady, facility security officer with the Office of Export and Secure Research Compliance at Virginia Tech. “Some elements that set Virginia Tech apart are the establishment of virtual gates for screening international visitors and travel, a rigorous defensive brief and debrief program with cooperating federal agencies for Virginia Tech international travelers, its outreach and education programs, and its comprehensive export and sanctions compliance program.

“The Virginia Tech program is made possible by its small but highly professional team of security experts and senior management support of the program,” Brady said.

The Cogswell Award, established in 1966, is named in honor of the late Air Force Col. James S. Cogswell, the first chief of industrial security within the Department of Defense. Cogswell was responsible for developing the basic principles of the Industrial Security Program, which include an emphasis on the partnership between industry and government to protect classified information. This year was the 50th anniversary of the award.

The Cogswell Award selection process is rigorous. A Defense Security Service industrial security representative may only nominate facilities that have at a minimum two consecutive superior industrial security review ratings and which show a sustained degree of excellence and innovation in their overall security program management, implementation, and oversight.

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