The Honorable Bill Evanina, who the Senate recently confirmed as Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), joined INSA President Suzanne Wilson Heckenberg for Wednesday Wisdom on May 13.
With more than 700 registered attendees, Dir. Evanina fielded questions covering a broad variety of topics, including supply chain, security clearances, cyber threats, and counterintelligence concerns related to COVID-19.
The importance of public private partnerships carried through the program, with Dir. Evanina stressing "we must work as one nation to fight our adversaries who are doing everything they can to defeat us." When asked about the implementation of the new counterintelligence strategy , Dir. Evanina noted he was humbled by how the private sector embraced the new strategy, saying it was as if industry picked up the mantle to say, "we are going to help lead this effort."
Regarding supply chain security threats, Dir. Evanina noted in the past, it was hard to give tangible examples of supply chain risks in a non-classified environment. The COVID crisis "opened the door" for us to give unclassified concrete examples of industry vulnerabilities to supply chain attacks.
A number of questions touched on teleworking and how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted teleworking capabilities. Dir. Evanina said we are on the "precipice" in the IC to immediately find solutions on teleworking. Saying when we get back to normal, we will find that we were "just as successful - with some exceptions -with people working at home than we were before." He noted we have to be flexible and look at the private sector model and extrapolate into the community to be "a more effective, efficient and I would say, a more attractive environment" for college students coming out and wanting to be in the IC in the coming years.
Dir. Evanina noted that the clearance process has not been too heavily affected by the pandemic. Aspiring IC careerists were excited to hear that the backlog is approaching 180,000 (a number we have not seen in almost a decade) and the transition of NBIB to DoD has been almost seamless. "We are seeing velocity rates of new clearances upward of 16-17% increase of where we were a year ago."
Additional topics touched on include CFIUS, protecting IP at U.S. research institutions, election security, nation state cyber threats, and critical infrastructure protection. One hundred percent of attendees in the post event survey responded that Wednesday Wisdom with The Honorable Bill Evanina met expectations, which certainly was not surprising after his informative, candid and encouraging responses.
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