Weigh the pros and cons of FSO outsourcing to determine the right fit for your secure facility’s needs.
A facility security officer (or FSO) is a required position for defense contractors looking to establish and maintain a facility clearance (FCL) and its associated classified program. And when looking to hire an FSO, you typically have two options: outsource most of the duties or keep the position in-house. Technically, the FSO title does have to belong to one of your employees, but most of the position’s responsibilities can be outsourced. Here is a breakdown of both options so that you can find the best fit for your company.
Qualities of a Good FSO
Some of the responsibilities of an FSO include: company compliance, personnel clearances (PCLs), education and security awareness for cleared personnel, document control, and facility management. With all of these responsibilities, it’s imperative to find an FSO with the qualities listed below.
Your FSO should be a problem solver and a great communicator. They should be professional and analytical, and they need to be able to solve problems and bring solutions to the table. They should be self-starters and highly motivated.
A red flag to watch out for is someone who is overconfident or too rigid. If your FSO is just looking to check a box, then they won’t have the motivation to think creatively and problem solve. Security isn’t always black and white, so you should be looking for someone who likes to solve problems. The best FSOs understand theory behind regulations and have the communication skills and chops to solve unique problems.
Outsourcing Your FSO
When talking about outsourcing your FSO, what it really means is outsourcing the duties of the position because technically, your FSO has to be a citizen of the U.S. and an employee of your company. You can give the title of FSO to one of your employees, but 90-95% of the FSO’s responsibilities can be outsourced.
To properly evaluate your FSO options, the first questions to ask are how big is your company, and how many people hold personnel clearances? Typically, smaller companies, or companies with less than 100 cleared employees, are more likely to outsource their FSO work. However, midsize and larger companies could save money by outsourcing certain aspects of their program such as personnel management or even gain flexibility during surges without hiring too many staff.
Another benefit of outsourcing your FSO is saving money while gaining a broader level of support. If you can use a company that specializes in security, then that company can give you more resources and bring a more extensive level of expertise, creativity, and dynamic resources than one person you hire in-house. Though sometimes, the FSO can have more liability and provide more personal care if they are in-house since they are working much more closely with the entire company.
To outsource your FSO, most companies charge you a base, upfront fee to get started then an annual rate around $90 per hour. At Adamo, we provide a flat rate that you can decide to pay monthly, quarterly or annually, which helps you control costs and understand how the rate will change when growth occurs.
Keeping FSO Duties In-House
Having an FSO in-house gives you a full-time person in the office to go to when you need something. Larger companies are more likely to hire an in-house FSO because a skilled one requires a salary around $80,000 annually, and if you’re not large enough, that can be too expensive.
When looking for an employee to hire as an in-house FSO, you should look for a critical thinking self-starter who is intelligent and a real go-getter. Age and experience shouldn’t matter a ton in this position as the more important characteristics are their attitude and work ethic.
If your in-house FSO needs a little help, the easiest way to see benefit from a consultant in the FSO duties with little effort is personnel security. Since the transactional, sustained nature of personnel management can take up the most time and draw away from what FSOs do best, it might be a good idea to outsource those administrative duties. Plus, giving this responsibility over to someone else can be done easily and with little coordination and interaction.
Know that while most tasks of an FSO can be outsourced, one exception is actually signing on the dotted line. When communication with the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) is required, the DCSA rep wants to talk with and evaluate the named FSO, not the consultant behind the curtain. However, in those instances, an outsourced company can be right there with the FSO to set them up for and walk them through the meeting or evaluation.
Here at Adamo, we want to make the FSO outsourcing process simple and affordable while providing a better overall security program than if you had it in-house. If you’re looking to outsource your FSO duties, contact us to learn more about pricing and services.