2021 YER cover image

2021 Year End Report download icon

What did we do this year?

The Center for Development of Security Excellence (CDSE), part of the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA), is charged with ensuring that the security workforce across DOD is positioned to address our nation's security challenges. This year, we continued to be the premier provider of security training, education, and certification in many different ways to achieve that mission, based on the career goals of the security professional and the time available to them for training and professionalization.

Message from the Training Directorate

For over ten years, the Center for Development of Security Excellence (CDSE) has been the premier provider of security training, education, and certification for the Department of Defense (DOD) and has since branched out across the Federal Government. As the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) Assistant Director and Deputy Assistant Director of the new Training Directorate, we have had the pleasure of watching CDSE grow and adapt to meet the needs of the changing security environment.

With the establishment of DCSA, the former National Training Center (NTC) became a part of CDSE and its mission to train on background investigations (BI) will continue under CDSE, from Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. The newly established DCSA Security Training directorate contains CDSE, with complementary BI offerings, and the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA). Similarly, NCCA, located in Fort Jackson, South Carolina will continue to provide training, research and oversight for the polygraph program to over 25 federal agencies.

We are pleased to announce not only this year's annual report, but also the new Director of CDSE, Ms. Heather Mardaga. Ms. Mardaga's vision and leadership will propel CDSE into the next year and beyond, to continue to evolve with technology advancements and community requirements.
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Kevin Jones
Assistant Director, Training
Photo of Erika Ragonese
Erika Ragonese
Deputy Assistant Director, Training

Message from CDSE

Photo of Heather Mardaga, CDSE DirectorCDSE is pleased to present our 12th Year End Report. During fiscal year 2021 (FY21), we continued to collaborate with our DOD, industry, and Federal Government partners to provide the most up to date and relevant security products and services. With many personnel still teleworking most of the time, CDSE continues to evolve and adapt our technology to ensure our products reach everyone in this new environment.

CDSE is committed to supporting DOD's security personnel, and constant collaboration with the community is integral to this effort. In this year's edition, you will see many examples of accomplishments, including hosting successful DOD Virtual Security Conferences, collaborating with those across the Federal Government, continuing our use of virtual instructor-led training, winning multiple awards for our products, and much more.

We hope you will find this report informative and see our dedication to providing the security workforce with the most current and relevant products for the constantly changing security environment.

Heather Mardaga
CDSE Director

We continued to evolve our virtual offerings.

CDSE continues to evolve our offerings to serve security personnel in this COVID-19 environment, converting additional instructor-led courses to the virtual instructor-led (VILT) platform. This allows students to receive the attention and interaction of an in-person course from the comfort of their own home or office.

During the fiscal year, CDSE delivered 27 VILT training course iterations, resulting in 885 completions across the board.

“I had been trying to attend [Intro to SAP] multiple times over the years and completing it at home was beneficial to me and family during the pandemic.”

Photo of man sitting in front of computer with a baby on his lap.

We worked with our stakeholders to provide up-to-date offerings.

In January, Ms. Elizabeth O’Kane (Senior Security Advisory, the lead 0080 with the Army) was appointed as the new Defense Security Training Council (DSTC) Chair. The DSTC serves as an advisory body on DOD security education and training to the USD(I&S) and is managed by the Director of the DCSA as the functional manager for the execution of DOD security training.

The DSTC created a sub-committee who will serve as the Board of Visitors (BOV) for the Education Program. The BOV serves as an external advisory body providing the senior leadership with expert and continuous advice on security education, research, and outreach programs. This will help the CDSE Education Program to pursue the status of a degree-granting higher education institution, allowing CDSE to give degrees to students in the Education Program, replacing the current certificates.

CDSE now hosts eight Defense Acquisition University (DAU) courses on STEPP that focus on life cycle logistics, supply chain risk management, counterfeit prevention, and acquisition and contracting basics. In addition, CDSE has provided 12 CDSE courses to DAU (focusing on introductory courses in industrial security basics and information security, FOCI, counterintelligence awareness, asset protection, the NID process, and unauthorized disclosure).

We explored new ways to educate and update the community.

CDSE added a new 16-week, Education course: “Foundations of Insider Threat Course” designed to introduce students to the risks posed by trusted insiders, including the psychological motivations, predispositions, and behaviors associated with this group. The course is the equivalent of a three semester hour course, developed in partnership with the USD(I&S) and the National Insider Threat Task Force (NITTF).

"Good introductory session of a much-needed course in Insider Threat. It's a growing concern not only in DOD, but all government agencies and private industry."

CDSE also launched three live webinars focused on Personnel Vetting (PV). The webinar series focused on topics relevant to DOD, industry, and Federal Government security communities. The vision behind the creation of the PV webinar series as a whole came from the word "Transformation." These webinars serve as micro-learning mediums for PV practitioners by providing real-time information relating to the impending release of PV policies and IT systems.

We hosted virtual conferences to update security personnel across the world.

CDSE hosted two Virtual DOD Security Conferences: one for an industry audience and the other for civilian and military personnel. Using the virtual platform, security professionals across the world were able to listen to live presentations from policy makers and leadership across the DOD and ask questions.

DOD Security Conference for Industry
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Feb 10–11, 2021
Back to Basics
2,364 Attendees

DOD Security Conference
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August 3–5, 2021
Collaborative Resilience:
Vision Turns to Reality in Security Today

2,100 Attendees

We strengthened insider threat awareness for DOD and industry personnel.

National Insider Threat Awareness Month logoSeptember 2021 marked the third annual National Insider Threat awareness month (NITAM). USD(I&S), the NITTF, and the DCSA partnered together with other stakeholder organizations to build off previous successes and expand the impact and audience of the NITAM campaign. Organizations that participate increase awareness and promote reporting of insider threats (InTs) across their workforces.

As part of NITAM, the 2021 National Insider Threat Virtual Conference was jointly hosted by DCSA and USD(I&S) on September 2, 2021. The event brought nearly 3,000 U.S. security professionals and policy makers from government and industry, located in 25 countries around the globe, together to kick off the NITAM campaign. The theme for this year's conference and campaign was “Workplace Culture and Insider Threat,” the same theme employed for NITAM.

"All presentations were very interesting and well presented. Apparent the presenters put a lot of time, research and effort into them, and it was appreciated. Cultural Awareness, Pensacola and West Point presentations were very enlightening. Thank you."

We demonstrated our excellence with our accreditations.

In ACE Logo2021, the American Council on Education (ACE) evaluated six education courses and two training courses, which received graduate–level credit recommendations. Currently, CDSE has 32 total courses with college credit recommendations.

On March 4, the Physical Security Certification (PSC) Program achieved re-accreditation status. Per DODM 3305.13, "DOD Security Accreditation and Certification," all certifications must be accredited and maintain accreditation by meeting the published standards of the nationally recognized certification accreditation body, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The five-year milestone of the PSC attaining re-accreditation solidifies the DOD's commitment to prepare and protect our warfighters and strengthens the defense of our Nation's assets, both present and future.

We leveraged technology every step of the way.

The success of digital badging is apparent in candidates' digital badge acceptance rate, which has increased significantly this year. To date, CDSE has issued over 9,100 credentials, 1,524 this FY alone, with an impressive 90% of candidates accepting and using their digital badge.
Digital Badging
CDSE eLearning Content Controller (eCC) invited all DOD and other government agencies with 1K – 20K users in their Learning Management System (LMS) to participate. The eCC enables CDSE to benefit by offering eLearning courses to customers while maintaining control and maintenance of the content. Customers benefit by launching and tracking student course completions through their native LMS.

We improved our customer outreach.

montage of images to reflect the concept of an electronic libraryContinuing with the trend of utilizing different methods of communication, CDSE released an additional three PSAs to YouTube, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), and featured on the American Forces Network. Additionally, we created a separate PSA for industry personnel outreach. The PSAs are in our newly created Electronic Library along with our other publications.

This year, we designed our outreach to target security professionals in industry. We attended various working groups, including four Government Industrial Security Training Committees (GISTC) meetings, three National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee (NISPPAC) meetings, two Industrial Security Awareness Council (ISAC) meetings, and the National Classification Management Society (NCMS) Chesapeake Bay Annual Seminar. During these meetings, CDSE presented what resources are available to industry personnel and where to find them. Attendees were also able to ask CDSE-specific questions.

Our numbers continued to grow.

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Course Completions

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Live Webinar Attendees

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Job Aid Downloads

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Education Completions

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Recorded Webinar Attendees

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Toolkit Views

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Digital Badges Issued

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Short Views