Protecting Your Organization in a Changing World

Thomas Nides
Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources 
Remarks at the Overseas Security Advisory Council Annual Briefing
Washington, DC
November 14, 2012

Welcome, all of you, to the State Department. You know, sharing a stage with the commissioner of the NFL and a first-class intelligence officer has its pros and cons. On the one hand, I already know I won’t be the most interesting speaker today. On the other hand, after years of trying, I might finally be able to convince my two teenage kids that I’m cool.

I’ve been on both sides of an event like this one. My own checkered past includes time in both business and government. And I am absolutely convinced that we need to do more to bring business and government together to pursue our common goals: more trade, more growth, more profits for American companies, and more and better jobs for the American people. And all of these things are far easier in an environment of openness, transparency, fairness, and safety. It’s that last one that brings us here today.

We basically have to balance two truths.

The first truth is that we need Americans out in the world. Building relationships can’t be the work of governments alone. As talented as our diplomats are, there are a lot of you and not that many of us. We need American companies, students, travelers and so many others in every country, alongside our diplomats, making our case to the world. And whether or not you carry a diplomatic passport your connections make our economy stronger and make us more trusted in the world. Smart power depends on people like you.

Unfortunately, the second truth is that it’s still a dangerous world. The loss of my friends and colleagues this fall in Benghazi is a reminder that being expeditionary—in diplomacy or business—comes with its share of risks. Both of us operate in places where soldiers do not. We will never be able to achieve perfect security or prevent every incident. But we can do everything in our power to mitigate those risks. And the truth is, you know things that we don’t know – and vice versa. Especially in complex overseas environments, our businesses and government work best when we work together.

This is why OSAC is so important: over 12,000 private American organizations and companies are sharing information and expertise—and working closely with the federal government to make sure that when someone hears about a threat, the right people are told, and they act.

OSAC does this in a few ways. It hosts events and conferences that bring together American organizations with a presence abroad and organizes them by sector, industry, and region. It gives them a This partnership brings together rivals like Coke and Pepsi, Nestle and Hershey and even the Soros Fund and the Koch Brothers. Clearly, this is a cause that brings all of us together.

And OSAC doesn’t just bring people together—it keeps them informed. In just the past year, it has published over 300 analytical reports and has conducted nearly 3,500 security consultations with American companies to give its members timely and accurate information on security.

People like to talk about public-private partnerships as something new. But OSAC has been doing this for decades. Which why we’ve come to trust them to help us take care of our most important and most precious resource: our people.

Our challenge is to study and manage the risks, to ask the tough questions and seek out answers together. But this much I am certain about: if we can unleash you and your companies to do what you do best, that will mean a more prosperous, respected America and a better, safer world. So I welcome all of you here today. And I thank you for rolling up your sleeves to do this critically important work.