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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

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How OSAC Analysts Can Benefit Your Global Security Operations

Overview

Whether you are the chief security officer for a large multinational corporation or a standalone global security manager at a small non-profit, OSAC can be a tremendous resource for to your security operations abroad. However, many organizations are not aware of the full scope of OSAC’s support capability, and do not fully leverage all of the resources we provide. This report specifically focuses on one resource -- OSAC analysts -- and how U.S. private-sector organizations can leverage their expertise to bolster security operations abroad.

What is the OSAC Program Office?

The OSAC Program Office is OSAC’s staff of analysts, program managers, and threat officers dedicated to monitoring threats to U.S. private-sector operations, personnel, facilities, and intellectual property abroad. Those staff members comprise three units, respectively: Research & Analysis; Programs, Partnerships, & Policy; and Global Threat Watch. (There are also several front office staffers who work behind the scenes to ensure that OSAC operations run smoothly.) Our staff has access to a broad range of classified and unclassified reporting from U.S. embassies and consulates abroad and the intelligence community, as well as open-source information, all of which we use to monitor social, political, and economic issues that impact U.S. private-sector security operations abroad.

Who are the analysts?

OSAC analysts fall under the Research & Analysis unit (R&A). R&A analysts cover regional and functional areas alike. The team’s ten analysts cover the world, as well as cybersecurity, emerging technologies, and sector-specific security issues. The analysts are subject matter experts (SMEs), not only in their specific areas of responsibility, but also in analyzing and responding to threats specific to the U.S. private sector. Their connections and experience within the security communities of their various regions or topic areas make them excellent resources for security managers across the many sectors that OSAC serves.

How do OSAC analysts assist OSAC members?

A key function of OSAC analysts is to develop and disseminate original analytical products covering the security issues affecting U.S. private-sector operations overseas. These reports focus on topics from terrorist attacks and political violence to crime, cybersecurity, and health issues. They generally range from two to five pages, and aim not only to inform but also to equip the reader with relevant mitigation measures. They often include information from post-incident assessments, benchmarking surveys, and trend analysis and take multiple forms beyond traditional, written assessments, including infographics and presentations.

In addition to producing in-house analytical products, OSAC analysts also compile and share other resources from the State Department, open-source research, or relevant documents from other organizations or government agencies. One example of internal State Department coordination and information sharing is the Country Security Report (CSR, formerly known as the Crime & Safety Report), which OSAC helps produce for each country around the world. Regional Security Officers (RSO) at each U.S. diplomatic post abroad writes their own CSR, with OSAC analysts serving as coordinators for review and dissemination. Another example is the sharing of alerts and advisories produced by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, all of which dating back to 2004 are on the OSAC website. Analysts also share information from outside of the Department in Daily News postings, available online and in email digest form. You can manage email notifications, such as your subscription to our daily newsletter or notifications about OSAC’s analytical products within the My Notifications portion of your OSAC.gov profile.

Producing and sharing information and analytical products on behalf of OSAC is a central function on the analysts. However, this is only one component of an analyst’s full portfolio. The analysts also spend a significant portion of their time responding to private-sector inquiries. These are questions that arrive via phone or email related to the analyst’s portfolio. Often, constituents ask our analysts about the implications of a specific event or occurrence that is significantly affecting their operations abroad. For example, you may find it useful to contact an analyst if you are navigating a significant security event such as contentious elections or a terrorist attack, organizing or reviewing upcoming travel to a high-risk destination, or developing or updating contingency plans. 

Additionally, constituents also request broader information about the security environment in a location or connections to specific individuals or resources relevant to a particular region or issue. These often take the form of in-person or phone consultations where an analyst briefs a constituent on the security concerns specific to their area of expertise. These one-on-one conversations are great for new or transitioning security managers looking to establish meaningful connections within their respective portfolios.

Finally, OSAC analysts often serve as SMEs for security-focused events and speaking engagements around the world. These include OSAC Country Chapter or Regional/Sector Committee meetings, as well as private-sector conferences and other security industry events. Analysts also sometimes brief groups of constituents on things such as upcoming travel to high-risk areas or specific ongoing security situations. OSAC makes every effort to support these engagements depending on availability, timing, and funding.

When should I contact an OSAC analyst?

Whenever you face a tough security situation abroad, and you need additional insight or outside input, call or email the relevant analyst. Often, security managers do not have access to internal specialists, so they look to the OSAC analyst for context on developments they see in the news. Maybe you notice that the same security issue is affecting multiple organizations in your sector or region. This may be an opportunity to produce an OSAC analytical report that includes benchmarking or security guidance.

In any case, come equipped with specific questions that you would like to have answered. You may want to review documents such as recent OSAC Analysis reports or the Country Security Report first. These resources can inform, and in some cases answer, your questions. Some examples of common questions are included below:

  • What are you able to tell me about the ongoing security situation in __________?
  • What are other organizations doing in response to the security situation in __________?
  • What are the factors that I should be monitoring as part of my contingency planning?
  • I saw that OSAC published a report on __________. How might that affect my operations?

If applicable, the analyst may put you in contact with the RSO, other regional contacts, or organizations similar to your own. However, keep in mind that these contacts may not always be available or advisable for certain situations. For example, OSAC and private sector-related duties are only a subset of an RSO’s overall work portfolio. As a result, analysts may encourage other points of contact in some cases.

What are the limitations of the OSAC analysts?

Though the analysts bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to their respective portfolios, there are occasionally questions that they are unable to answer for any number of reasons. It is sometimes the case that another individual or office is best equipped to handle your request. In those cases, the analysts will help you reach that resource, which could be the RSO, another SME within the government, another organization, etc. One example that occurs frequently is requests for information on visa processes in a particular country. In that instance, the analyst would refer you to Consular Affairs personnel at the relevant embassy/consulate or in Washington — whoever is best able to assist.

Analysts are also sometimes limited in their ability to provide direct guidance on specific security issues relevant to your organization. This includes things such as saying definitively whether you should or should not send travelers to a particular destination, or prescribing which hotels, transportation, or security providers to use in-country. (However, it is sometimes possible to provide benchmarking data or general references to what other organizations are doing to help you answer these questions on your own.)

What do I do after hours or in an emergency?

If you experience an emergency after hours requiring OSAC assistance, you can call the on-call duty officer at any time by phone at 1-202-309-5056 or reach them via email at OSACEmergency@state.gov. An OSAC analyst is responsible for this contact point 24/7. Though the individual on call will not always have specific expertise in the region where you are requesting assistance, each Duty Officer is equipped to provide constituents with available resources based on the situation. The Duty Officer may also include the relevant analyst as part of their response. Note, though, that this option is for emergencies only, not for administrative difficulties such as password resets or account lockouts.

Further Information

For further information on your relationship with the OSAC analysts, or to contact an OSAC analyst, choose the best option below:

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