Exclusive Interview With New DCSA Director William K. Lietzau

Written by Thomas Langer


I recently had the chance to pose a few questions to the new Director of the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA), Mr. William Lietzau *. Given the restrictions all of us face with the COVID-19 pandemic, this Q&A presented a great opportunity to get to know the Director and share his philosophy and mission with the larger cleared contractor community.  We appreciate his willingness to spend some time with us.

Tom Langer (TL): Director Lietzau, welcome and thank you for spending some time with us.  Let me first congratulate you on your selection to lead this Agency and its important national security mission.  You have an impressive résumé of military, civilian and contractor leadership roles.  How do you think that has prepared you for this specific role?

Director William Lietzau:  Thank you for this opportunity, and thank you for taking the time to set this up.  I think if anyone tells you they are ready for this role they most likely are not.  This is a huge mission with a lot of complexities, right in the middle of a pandemic no one added to the equation. I’ve had a number of different roles in my professional career; military experience at all levels of command, as an FSO where I would reach into DSS and as the head of security. But my experience in change management and executive leadership is where I believe I can add value right now.  The importance of the integration and merger of the various missions at DCSA will be crucial and our success will hinge on that being done successfully.  I didn’t come looking for this role, but I am excited to be able to take the helm of this remarkable agency at this time.

TL:  I know you have only been in the role for a short period of time, but can you share what your top three priorities are for the remainder of the fiscal year?

Director Lietzau: First of all, the integration of mission and functional components across the Agency.  This will include an operating model assessment and consequent reorganization.  There is a reason DCSA was stood up and these mission sets brought under one umbrella.  Looking back at the transfer of the DoD CAF and NBIB to DCSA; these three unique and important mission sets all fused to form today’s DCSA.

Secondly, the NBIS is the IT architecture of the 21st century, and we have to deliver that successfully to ensure the long-term sustainability of the personnel vetting mission.

And finally, dealing with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The health and safety of the workforce will always be at the top of my objectives. The course and strength of this pandemic will change how we all do our roles but given the dedication and commitment of the team and the adaptations they have already made, I know we can meet this challenge.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what is coming in the second wave of transfers slated for 1 October 2020.

  • DIA transfers to DCSA: 
    • The National Center for Credibility Assessment and Executive Agent for Security of DoD Personnel at US Missions Abroad. The Deputy Secretary of Defense (DSD) has approved the transfer of these missions as well as associated personnel, funding and resources effective October 1, 2020.
    • SCIF/TEMPEST Accreditation/Oversight missions have not yet been formally transferred to DCSA, but we think they are coming, and we are preparing for that to also happen in October 2020.
  • DISA transfers to DCSA:
    • NBIS PEO and Joint Service Personnel supporting the DoD CAF. The DSD has approved the transfer of these missions as well as associated personnel, funding and resources effective October 1, 2020.
  • Defense Manpower Data Center personnel vetting systems: the DSD has approved the transfer of these missions as well as associated personnel, funding and resources effective October 1, 2020.
  • OPM Legacy IT:
    • Legacy IT capabilities for some DCSA Personnel Vetting operations are currently being provided by OPM as part of an Inter-Agency Agreement (IAA) services buy-back agreement.  However, DoD is planning to begin a transfer of these systems this fiscal year.

TL: Your most recent role was the Director of the Personnel Vetting Transformation Office where you managed the transfer of the National Background Investigation Bureau (NBIB) to the new DCSA.  Obviously, you are well aware of the importance of the personnel vetting component of DCSA’s mission.  How do you feel the transfer has gone and what challenges do you see with that mission specifically?

Director Lietzau: I was incredibly impressed with the work the team did to meet the 1 October 2019 transition target.  It bears mentioning that they accomplished the following:


  • Transferred 2,957 NBIB employees and 637 CAF employees to DCSA Title 10 positions.
  • Assembled and distributed approximately 8,600 DCSA badges for legacy DSS and NBIB personnel.
  • Transferred leases for 2,007 vehicles.
  • Transferred leases for NBIB facilities — 49 GSA Occupancy Agreements (OA) and 65 Inter Service Support Agreements (ISSA).

Information Technology

  • Stood up Inter-Agency IT Governance Board to manage legacy IT investments.
  • Negotiated IT buyback services to cover legacy IT needs.
  • Transferred 4,500+ IT assets accepted into Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS).

Financial Management

  • Stood up DCSA Working Capital Fund (DWCF) and transferred $998M from Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to DWFC.
  • Transferring the remaining balance from OPM’s revolving fund to DWCF by FY20 Q1.
  • Negotiated common services to support the mission.
  • Transferred 37+ NBIB active contracts to DCSA with no break of mission performance.

TL:  Over the past years, there has been DCSA and industry partnering on how to improve the security vulnerability assessments (SVAs) in industry. Besides the personnel vetting mission, the SVA is near and dear to the hearts of all FSOs.  How do you see this component of the DCSA mission evolving under your tenure?

Director Lietzau: I can’t answer this question without first recognizing that the challenges the Department of Defense faces in response to COVID-19 are historic, borne across the total force, including our military, civilian, and Defense Industrial Base communities.  We must work hand in hand to deal with the current circumstances that are arising from this pandemic, while doing the best we can to continue to protect National Security during a time when we are at most risk of exploitation.

The personnel vetting mission has gotten a lot of attention and a lot of help from outside sources. We’ve had less focus on industrial security, but I expect that to change. The issue with DSS in Transition has been the delta between the headquarters and the field. We all want to move to a risk-based approach, but with 10,000 companies and 12,000 facilities, we have to find a way to implement it.  We are learning a lot with how we’re adapting during the pandemic, and we’ve been able to do some virtual work. I want to continue to elevate security awareness in industry and look at how best to do that.

TL: With the realignment of the personnel vetting and industrial security missions under DCSA, how will that translate into the numbers and types of staffing at the regional headquarters and field offices of DCSA?

Director Lietzau: I don’t foresee any immediate changes in our field staffing.  We are still developing an operational model, and while I do envision greater collaboration across the critical technology protection and personnel vetting mission spaces, we’re still trying to assess what that might look like.  But clearly there is synergy between the missions, which was part of the rationale for creating DCSA.

As we move forward, we want to ensure that any changes we make to the organization are well-thought-out and consider the complexities of our business model. Right now, our focus is adjusting our business in this COVID environment so that our missions are not disrupted.

TL: The counterintelligence (CI) mission for your agency is a large one indeed.  What more can industry do to assist you in this mission, and secondly do you expect to retain and expand the existing CI partnership with industry?

Director Lietzau: The CI mission is essential for the success of our National Security mission. The reality is our adversaries are always looking for weaknesses in our protections, and the current environment won’t see a decrease in that at all.  The security health of the supply chain impacts all of us and we need everyone, even outside the cleared industrial base, to be aware of the threat.  As the USG changes its oversight of critical technologies and the merger and acquisition (M&A) process, the CI elements will be ever more important.  We need cleared industry to do its part in its training and awareness and reporting of suspicious contacts.

TL: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted DCSA, I expect, like most of industry and the country in general.  Working from home, relying on telephone and video conferencing has impacted all of us.  How is DCSA coping with this new normal, and how are the missions being met?

Director Lietzau:  As I mentioned throughout this Q&A, all of us in the community will emerge differently and enter a new normal.  I think the DCSA workforce was well-positioned for this; they had already been through tremendous change, and they have been and remain incredibly adaptable.  I think we learned a lot in our response to COVID and we will use those lessons as opportunities to improve.  I remain very impressed and proud of the DCSA team and all they are doing.

TL: Are there any final thoughts or requests you would like to share with Industry partners to help support the DoD/DCSA mission?

Director Lietzau:  Let me close by saying what an honor it is for me to lead this team.  I was drawn back to the government because I love the sense of mission that comes with this service.  I remain so impressed at how the professionals in DCSA perform their mission with little fanfare or notice, but do so because they believe in the mission and the critical role it plays in our Nation’s security posture. 

TL:  Thank you again for taking this time with us and we look forward to partnering with you.

*Complete hyperlink to Director Lietzau’s bio:  https://www.dcsa.mil/About-Us/Leadership/Bio-Display/Article/1822359/william-k-lietzau/



About the Author

Mr. Thomas Langer has a 30-year track record as an industry security executive, including 20 years with BAE Systems, and will be periodically sharing his knowledge on crucial, relevant topics here on this Blog page.  Learn more about Thomas here.