5 Minutes with Richard Amburgey
Richard Amburgey was recently named Chief Security Officer for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It’s the first time that the agency has had someone within the CSO role.
Amburgey will serve as the Chief Security Officer leading, advising, and coordinating security operations, protecting the life and property of the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Headquarters building in Washington, D.C., a 1.2 million square feet multi-tenant facility that houses more than 2,200 occupants. He will be responsible for creating a security program from the ground up to include multi-functional programs with national impact.
Security Magazine: As CSO, what is your main focus?
Amburgey: Security is a newly formed branch for BLS, so my main focus as CSO at BLS will be to create a security program that adds value and provides comprehensive security services in coordination with Interagency Security Committee (ISC) standards. From there, we can then focus on the agency's entire security posture and protecting the employees and property of the BLS National Headquarters building.
Security Magazine: How did your previous roles prepare you for this role?
Amburgey: I began my journey in security with the United States Navy as a Master-at-Arms shortly after 9/11. I served in a variety of security/law enforcement roles before serving as a Protective Services Agent with NCIS providing dignitary protection. The military taught me discipline, attention to detail, core values and how to evaluate risk. After my six years of honorable service, I chose to attend graduate school at Valparaiso University. During the last semester, I was selected by OPM as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF), a highly selective, prestigious two-year training and leadership development program.
As a PMF, I was the only Fellow with a security background, so I had the opportunity to work in various security programs and roles with the Department of Justice and Social Security Administration. After the PMF program, an opportunity presented itself with FEMA in Chicago, Ill. as their Chief of Regional Security Operations. It was this position that I would say fine-tuned my skills and helped me prepare for the role of CSO. I am most proud of the following during my seven years with FEMA.
- We received the first-ever 5–Star Security Program rating in FEMA.
- We reduced overall theft/missing government property in the region by 93 percent within the first two years of employment.
- We improved the security posture of the region from 68 percent to 92 percent within the first three years.
- We developed a regional 'Next-Generation Security Leader' program.
- We documented more than 18,000 security services to internal and external customers.
Security Magazine: What are your initial priorities over the next six months?
Amburgey: I had the pleasure to have studied and learned from some highly successful leaders when I was in the military, all of which taught me the value of a solid 30-60-90 day plan following a transition to a new duty station. I intend to utilize that plan and also learn the strengths of my team and the resources I have available to me in the agency.
Given that this is a newly formed role at BLS, in six months, I anticipate that we will have identified our core security programs. This will then allow us to begin defining how we provide services to our customers, as well as build our brand for better buy-in.
Security Magazine: What do you hope to accomplish in the longer term, and where do you see opportunities for growth?
Amburgey: My goal is to create a successful, multi-functional security program that provides compliant security services that protect BLS employees, facilities and assets so that BLS personnel can carry out their daily operational duties. Additionally, I hope to reduce complexities in government security and simplify our processes. I am a big fan of standardization but also running security like a business, continuously measuring and building our brand for better buy-in.
In terms of growth, I see this role further preparing me for my long-term goal, which is to become a Senior Executive Service (SES), Chief Security Officer for a Department in the U.S. government.
Security Magazine: What do you like to do in your free time?
Amburgey: In my spare time, I enjoy exploring different cuisines with my lovely wife, woodworking, golfing, and expanding my knowledge.