The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency has named Virginia Tech’s Office of Export and Secure Research Compliance (OESRC) a 2020 James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award winner. 

Also honored with the Cogswell Award in 2016, Virginia Tech is one of only two higher education institutions nationally to be honored out of the approximately 12,500 cleared facilities in the National Industrial Security Program (NISP) for 2020. Other awardees include: General Dynamics Mission Systems, Inc., Honeywell International, Inc., Texas A&M, Lockheed Martin Corporate Headquarters, and Northrop Grumman Corp.

People posing with a plaque
Last year, the Virginia Tech team received the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency's (DCSA) 2018 Excellence in Counterintelligence award. This year, the university has been honored with DCSA's 2020 James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and cancellation of the 56th annual seminar and awards ceremony, the winners were announced virtually. From left: Interim Vice President of Research and Innovation Don Taylor, President Tim Sands, Deputy Director of the DCSA Carrie L. Wibben, Director of Export and Secure Research Compliance John Talerico, Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation, Sponsored Programs Trudy Riley, and University Legal Counsel Kay Heidbreder. Photo by Lee Friesland for Virginia Tech.

To receive consideration for the Cogswell Award, a facility must be nominated by their assigned Industrial Security Representative and must have achieved two consecutive superior assessment ratings. The criteria are dependent on the principles of industrial security excellence that include establishing and maintaining a security program that goes well beyond the minimum NISP requirements and providing leadership to other cleared facilities to set high standards for security.

“The Cogswell Award represents the university's unwavering commitment to protecting our faculty’s defense and national security research,” said Don Taylor, interim vice president for the Office of Research and Innovation. “Every day, John Talerico and his team are proactive and focused on protecting the integrity of classified information and data across the university and commercial networks.”

Talerico, director of the Office of Export and Secure Research Compliance, leads a team of security professionals to ensure university-wide compliance with export controls, sanctions, and industrial security laws and regulations. 

“We are greatly honored by the recognition of our commitment to protect classified information and national security,” said Talerico. “The team goes to extreme measures to provide a safe and secure environment for Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and students so that they can conduct national security related research for the advancement of our defense and intelligence capabilities.”

A business unit within the Virginia Tech Office of Research and Innovation, OESRC promotes fundamental research, protects U.S. technology, and seeks to educate Virginia Tech employees and students about requirements and regulations on Virginia campuses in Blacksburg, Roanoke, and is expanding operations into the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Virginia Tech’s industrial security program is now a three-time national award recipient of Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) honors. In addition to the 2020 and 2016 Cogswell awards, the program also received the DCSA Award for Excellence in Counterintelligence in 2018.

The Cogswell Award was established in 1966 in honor of the late Air Force Col. James S. Cogswell, who was the first chief of the Unified Office of Industrial Security. Col. Cogswell is responsible for the underlying principle of the industrial security program, recognizing the importance of true partnership between industry and government to ensure the protection of classified information, materials, and programs, according to the website.

“While we are extremely honored by the 2020 Cogswell Award, our team does not consider the job done. We continue to strive for the strongest security program possible and make sure we earn the distinction as a Cogswell Award recipient each and every day,” said Talerico.