• United States



You Don’t Know Jack – Johnson, CSO for DHS

Mar 01, 20043 mins
CareersCSO and CISO

Department of Homeland Security hires first Chief Security Officer Jack Johnson

When companies merge, so do security infrastructures. The CSO is often tasked with making piecemeal systems work securely. For Jack Johnson, the CSO of DHS, this means securing systems and staff resulting from the merger of 23 agencies and 180,000 employees into one agency whose mission is to protect our nation’s critical infrastructures.

A 20-year veteran of the Secret Service, Johnson was acting CSO for a year and was officially appointed in December. Johnson’s long list of responsibilities include ensuring the personal security of DHS employees, and managing counterintelligence, training and technical support, special investigations, physical security programs and an administrative security division.

In addition, Johnson knows he must work with the private sector, where a majority of the nation’s critical infrastructure exists. He has turned to experts in companies such as Lockheed Martin for advice on securing DHS. “I think we can only enhance our relationship with each other if we have a continued dialogue,” says Johnson. “We need a national focus on security, not a federal one.”

Outreach efforts from the department to the private sector will be coordinated by Al Martinez-Fonts, special assistant to the secretary for private-sector coordination at the DHS. Johnson hopes to develop partnerships with key government, public, private and international stakeholders, and build awareness programs that will develop information-sharing mechanisms.

But first he must secure the inner workings of DHS. “I consider my most important duties to be protecting DHS itself, and protecting its people, buildings and information. If I can’t do that, how can I protect the rest of our country?”

Creating efficient methods of communicating about security with state officials is another of Johnson’s top goals. The department is working with the FBI to create lists of who in each state can receive top-level information and to determine the most secure transmitting methods.

Internally, Johnson is working on a better system to clear employees working within DHS by developing a consolidated database and smart card access. Another task is building a baseline level of security training and awareness for new employees. Johnson says many DHS employees are not trained in counterintelligence, operations security and security awareness, but that is something he plans to change.

Johnson’s overall vision is a more self-sufficient DHS. To that end, Johnson has created the Security Managers Working Group, which will develop security policies and procedures for DHS.

No matter how you look at it, Jack Johnson’s got quite a busy year ahead of him.