The Overworked Executive

The Overworked Executive

The Overworked Executive

You are really, really, busy at your organization – does that make you a good FSO?

Katherine* was the Office Manager/FSO at her organization.   She was praised for working extremely hard.   Staying late and coming in on weekends, led to her promotion and expanded responsibilities.     She wore “five different hats” in the organization and was exhausted but proud of that!

Now, the company was growing and Senior Management was expanding.   As the owners reviewed the office staff for promotion, the opinion regarding Katherine’s work was not was positive as it had once been.

“She is always rushing in late to meetings – apologetic and stressed. She seems annoyed to have to be there. All of her emails start with ‘I am sorry for taking so long to get back to you …’.”

“She keeps postponing her items on the calendar. The government-required security Self-Inspection and Annual training dates have been moved four times so that she could catch up with her budget report and proposal write-up – that means we are not-compliant with DSS regulations, right?”

“When I stopped by her office to ask her a question, I got a run-down of her “to-do” list instead.   It is insane!  I got stressed out listening to it so I told her I would ask someone else.”

“I just don’t think she can handle additional responsibility without burn-out.   Who else do we have?”

The over-tasked manager/director/executive is a common problem.   There are a number of reasons for how it can occur. Maybe the boss keeps piling on responsibilities with no additional help?   Maybe the company cannot afford more help? Maybe task-heavy executives do not have time to stop and train someone to help that is there due to constant deadlines?   Maybe a person feels more important to the organization if they constantly “do everything – all by themselves.”? Maybe they micro-manage and do not want to delegate or give up control?  Maybe there is no one else to do it and so – with a harrumph – they say “fine, I will do it.”

Regardless of the reason, the bottom line is – the task-heavy executive does not look professional and capable. He or she does not inspire confidence that government compliance is being handled in a timely fashion.   They may believe their excessive workload makes them appear essential to the organization, but to the on-looker they can unintentionally appear disorganized, unavailable, behind on everything … and really grumpy!

While there are a number of sites and tools to deal with time management, delegation, training, planning … this is a blog for those who wear the Facility Security Officer hat!

The National Industrial Security Program developed a manual (NISPOM) describing how they expected cleared organizations to run the organization’s security program.   The operating manual is designed to keep you compliant AND properly safeguard the nation’s classified information.

It is much better to get some help than to always procrastinate then scramble to catch up when inspection (SVA) are scheduled by the government.

If the FSO is too busy and too behind to manage the organization’s security program and cannot afford to hire additional personnel, consider using help.

How much time is required?

A small business, with 5 – 40 cleared personnel typically only needs 10-12 hours a month to have a strong, compliant program with proper:

  • Management and execution of facility clearance documents
  • Access authorizations for your personnel (JPAS log-in, investigations, reports)
  • Government-required security education and training
  • DD254 and subcontractor compliance
  • Contract-related security requirements (VARS, badges, memos)
  • Consultants
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Classified Meetings and Storage
  • Export Control
  • Government inspections and audits

How much would it cost?

Believe it or not, it costs less than hiring a part-time worker and the organization does not have to assume the costs associated with an employee.

Shouldn’t I just try and do it all myself?

Yes, there are plenty of excellent resources provided by DSS to help you do your work and plenty of supportive organizations to help sharpen your skills but if you are too busy to stop and read, look up information or attend meetings or call your IS Rep or Field Office, you may want to consider a few hours of support each month rather than compromising your organization’s security posture.

If you are too busy to do your FSO Work, contact FSO PRO for ideas of how they can help get the “FSO to-do list” done!


Need help remembering your FSO requirements? Sign up for monthly text reminders for JPAS login and other DSS due-outs!