Our History

The history of DCSA traces its origins to two key missions – personnel security and industrial security.  Over the past 50 years, the agency has been defined and redefined by these linked core mission sets. 

Our Past Directors

  • Brigadier General Joseph Cappucci, USAF, 1971-1976 

  • Bernard J. O'Donnell, 1976 - 1981 

  • Thomas J. O'Brien, 1981 - 1988 

  • John F. Donnelly, 1988 - 1996 

  • Margaret R. Munson, 1996 - 1998 

  • Steven T. Schanzer, 1998 - 1999 

  • Charles J. Cunningham Jr., 1999 - 2002 

  • William Curtis, 2002 - 2004 

  • Heather Anderson, 2004 - 2005 

  • Janice Haith, 2005 - 2006 

  • Kathy Watson, 2006 - 2010 

  • Stanley L. Sims, 2010 - 2016 

  • Daniel E. Payne, 2016 - 2019 

  • Charles Phalen 2019 - 2020 

  • William K. Lietzau 2020 - 2023 

  • Daniel J. Lecce 2023 - 2024

  • David M. Cattler 2024 - present

Mission History

Personnel security and industrial security are the core missions of our agency. Over the past 50 years, the DCSA has been defined and redefined by these missions.


On December 29, 1971, the Secretary of Defense established the Defense Investigative Service (DIS). This began the Department's unified handling of its personnel security, effective January 1, 1972. DIS’s tasks, responsibilities, and authority were published in DoD Directive 5105.42 and designated DIS as a separate operating agency under the direction of the Secretary.  

Realignment to OPM 

In 1999, DIS underwent a reorganization to become the Defense Security Service (DSS). DSS retained the personnel security investigation (PSI) mission until February 20, 2005, when the function was transferred to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). This transfer included PSIs for industry personnel under the National Industrial Security Program. It also included the transfer of roughly 1,850 personnel, which was stipulated in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. 

OPM, as the successor to the Civil Service Commission, has been conducting PSIs for most non-DoD programs since 1953. That is when EO 10450 established the requirement for a government-wide PSI program and granted authority for the program to the Civil Service Commission. OPM became the government’s largest ISP in 2005 after assuming the DSS program and personnel. 

Realignment to DCSA 

In October 2016, the semi-autonomous National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) was established under OPM. NBIB was the primary investigative service provider (ISP) for the Federal Government. It conducted ~95% of all federal background investigations. It began the process of transforming the PSI mission. NBIB kept that mission until the program and its personnel were moved to DCSA. 

On April 24, 2019, Executive Order (EO) 13869 directed the transfer of NBIB from OPM to the Department of Defense (DOD), effective October 1, 2019.  

Where We Are Today 

The realignment of the federal personnel vetting mission enlarged DCSA and ushered in the next era of personnel vetting. Under DCSA, the Personnel Security mission now encompasses the entire spectrum of personnel vetting, to include: 

  • Consolidated adjudication of DoD elements 

  • Insider threat analysis for the Department 

  • Development and maintenance of a continuous evaluation/vetting program 


The second historical lineage of DCSA is related to the Industrial Security Program. In 1965, the Office of Industrial Security was established under the Defense Contract Administration Service (DCAS) and Defense Supply Agency (DSA). U.S. Air Force Col. James S. Cogswell was its first chief. The change brought together more than 100 different offices of the Army, Navy and Air Force that had cognizance over plants handling defense contracts. In the reorganization, 11 CAS regions were established with uniform policies and regulations. 

Realignment to DIS

On Oct. 1, 1980, the Industrial Security Program, the Key Asset Protection Program and the Arms, Ammunition and Explosives Security Program were transferred to DIS from Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). For 25 years (1980 until 2005) both the personnel and industrial security missions were part of DIS/DSS. 

Establishment of NISP 

The National Industrial Security Program was created in January 1993 by Executive Order 12829. It was intended to replace not only the Defense Industrial Security Program (DISP), but the industrial security programs of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In June of that year, DIS assumed responsibility for finalizing the draft National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM). The team completed their draft NISPOM on Oct. 15, 1993. The NISPOM replaced the nearly 45-year-old DISP and its Industrial Security Manual. The NISPOM wasn’t effective until April 1995 but DIS began implementing many of its provisions immediately. 

Army Intelligence School 

Underpinning the personnel and industrial security missions is security education and training. Between 1953 and 1955, a central training facility was established at the existing Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird, Md. Its goal was to bring more uniformity to the DISP. Army representatives were security-trained agents of the Counterintelligence Corps. The Air Force assigned a civilian with industrial security experience. The Navy assigned an officer with little direct experience.  

Defense Security Institute 

In 1972, the school was relocated to Fort Huachuca. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) re-established the industrial security section under its control and chose the Defense General Supply Center, Richmond, Va., as the location for the Defense Industrial Security Institute.  

The school was founded to train industrial security specialists and Facility Security Officers. After the transfer of the industrial security mission from DLA to DIS, which also included the Department of Defense Security Institute (DoDSI), the institute began training Special Agents to conduct PSIs. The training mission grew to include personnel security specialists working at DISCO and the Personnel Investigative Center. It further expanded to include training for the military services and DoD agencies in the areas of information, personnel and physical security, adjudications, and Special Access Programs. 

An Information Security Management Course was added in 1974, a Personnel Security Investigation Course in 1981 and a DoD Security Specialist course in 1986. Because of the mission expansion, the name was changed in 1984 to the Defense Security Institute. 

On Jan. 1, 1984, DoDSI was redesignated the Defense Security Institute. The name change more accurately reflected its mission and scope of responsibilities. 

Commitment to Our Training Mission 

Since then, we've continued to solidify DCSA's training mission: 

  • In 1999, the Defense Security Service Academy was formally established, replacing DSI.  

  • In 2007, the Director of DSS was named the functional security manager for DoD Security Training 

  • In 2010, the Center for Development of Security Excellence was established  

  • In 2020, the National Center for Credibility Assessment transferred to DCSA.