As the national leader and voice of the contract security industry, NASCO is constantly interacting with Congress, federal agencies, state legislators, regulators, the courts, and the media on a variety of industry related issues. NASCO also works closely with state associations, business groups, contractor organizations, and security organizations on mutual issues of concern.
2015 Year in Review
2015 was yet another very busy and productive year for NASCO and its members, and a year of significant growth and consolidation. In terms of membership, Guardsmark, the last of the remaining original six companies to found NASCO in 1972, was acquired by its fellow NASCO member Universal Protection Services. Universal also acquired, another NASCO member ABM that had just joined NASCO at the beginning of the year. Also, rejoining NASCO after several years of being out was U.S. Security Associates. In addition, Covenant Services Worldwide, the parent of NASCO member Covenant Aviation Security (CAS), became a member incorporating both CAS and Covenant Security Services. As a result of these new members, NASCO member revenues grew by over 25% from the previous year and the member companies of NASCO now employed over 400,000 security officer across the United States.
Over the past year, NASCO continued in its role as the voice and advocate of the contract security industry before Congress and federal agencies, state agencies, and the national news media.
At the state level, NASCO weighed in on a variety of state licensing, regulatory, and legislative issues affecting security companies with some notable successes.
NASCO scored a big win in Rhode Island, where after a two year effort, the Rhode Island Department of Labor granted NASCO’s petition for an exemption for licensed contract security agencies from the State’s arcane requirement that businesses pay their employees time and a half on Sundays and holidays.
In Florida, NASCO was part of a successful joint effort with FASCO to kill a bill that could have lessened industry input into the State training requirements for security officers.
In Delaware, NASCO worked with the state licensing board to reduce delays in the security officer application approval process by eliminating the requirement that an applicant undergo the state mandated training before an application could be processed.
In North Carolina, NASCO opposed a bill that would have restricted security officers’ use of electronic communication devices while on mobile patrol. The bill did not pass.
In Maryland, NASCO supported legislation that would allow for the alignment of the renewal periods for security officer licenses and gun permits. Unfortunately, that bill did not pass.
In Oklahoma and Texas, NASCO weighed in with the licensing boards with suggestions to speed up licensing process, and those efforts will continue on in 2016.
In Arkansas, NASCO challenged a new interpretation by the Arkansas State Police of the law governing security officer credentialing that would no longer allow for officers to put on the job while their credential application was pending.
NASCO also raised other issues with state regulators, including at annual International Association of Security and Investigative Regulators (IASIR) conference in New Orleans, where NASCO was again the lead Gold Sponsor of the event.
At the federal level, NASCO continued to be relied upon by Congress, federal agencies and the Government Accountability Officer as the representative of and source of information for private security contractors. NASCO’s strong working relationships with officials and staff in Washington provided numerous opportunities for NASCO members and members of the NASCO Government Security Contractors Caucus, to interact with Congress, federal agencies, the GAO and others.
NASCO worked closely with the Federal Protective Service, which utilizes over 14,000 contract security officers as “Protective Security Officers” who protect close to 1000 U.S. government facilities. NASCO continued to work in 2015 with FPS on several ongoing initiatives to improve the training for PSO’s including the development of active shooter training, a national lesson plan, and turning over all PSO training to contractors. In Congress, NASCO and FPS worked together in support of legislation that would strengthen the detention authority of PSO’s and federalize the firearms “carry authority” for PSO’s.
Increasingly, federal facilities have become a magnet for violence, and tragically this year, two PSO’s, one from NASCO Government Security Contractor Caucus Member Masters Security, and another from fellow Caucus member FJC Security, were killed in the line of duty. FPS called the slain officers “heroes” and their tragic deaths underscore the reality that private security officers are indeed on the front-line in effort to keep the public safe. To pay tribute to these officers, NASCO made contributions to the memorial funds set up for the officers by their companies.
Another federal program that continues to garner a lot of attention and activity and is a priority program for NASCO is the TSA “Screening Partnership Program,” which allows private contractors to operate passenger and baggage screening at airport instead of TSA officers. Over the past year, NASCO continued to work with the program’s allies in Congress to fend off Democratic and AFGE efforts to harm the program and spread disinformation about the relative cost and effectiveness of public versus private screeners. NASCO also provided key input to TSA and program officials as they moved toward a new acquisition process for the program.
NASCO also weighed in with Congress and the media on the related issue of airport employee screening which gained national attention in 2014 with the arrest of baggage handlers at Atlanta’s airport who were running a gun smuggling ring. In meetings with members of Congress and staff, and in the media, NASCO, has sought to highlight and make known the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of the full employee screening programs in operation at the airports in Miami and Orlando that are being operated by NASCO Members AlliedBarton and Covenant Security.
Also at the congressional level, NASCO continued its long time effort on pass legislation to make FBI background checks more available to security officer employers and in 2016 NASCO looks forward to Republican Senator Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania reintroduction of his “Security Officer Screening Improvement Act” which will enable security officer employers to obtain FBI background checks on their security officers, as authorized in the previously enacted Private Security Officer Employment Authorization Act, when an FBI background check is unavailable from the state of employment.
NASCO also continued to be involved in federal and national security issues through its memberships and participation on the DHS Emergency Service Sector Coordinating Council and the U.S. Chamber National Security Task Force.
A lot of the federal and state activity of interest to contract security companies in 2015 had nothing to do with security or licensing related issues, and instead related to labor, employment and contracting issues. While with many of these state and federal labor related activities detrimental to employers there is little NASCO or anyone employer group can do to stop them; however, NASCO was able to provide its members with as much advance warning, information and useful analysis as possible through its relationships with the U.S. Chamber, top employment firms, Congress, and subscriptions to various labor and employment law monitoring and analysis services.
On some labor, employment and contracting issues NASCO did get directly involved. Over the summer of 2015, the Department of Labor put out a proposed federal Rule that would essentially allow agencies to “blacklist” contractors based on purported labor law violations, and create burdensome reporting and tracking requirements for contractors. In response, NASCO retained the premier employment firm Littler Mendelsohn to not only provide NASCO members analysis of the Rule but assist NASCO in drafting comments in opposition to the proposed Rule. Littler attorneys have also accompanied NASCO Executive Director Steve Amitay on visits with congressional committees to lobby against the Rule and make known the potentially dangerous effects the Rule can have on security contracting by federal agencies
Related to NASCO’s coverage and involvement in labor and employment issues, 2015 saw considerable activity within the NASCO “Legal Forum” which is an effort among NASCO member company counsel, executives, and outside counsels to discuss and share advice on legal and litigation issues affecting contract security companies. The current head of the Legal Forum is Deborah Pecci of AlliedBarton. At the two formal Legal Forum meetings in 2015, presentations were provided on a range of topics from medical marijuana to data liability to, of course a recurring favorite, legal developments in California. Besides the formal meetings, NASCO counsels and executives regularly shared information and provided updates on various legal, litigation, regulatory and compliance issues.
NASCO also continued to be involved in important litigation affecting the industry. In 2014, NASCO helped finance amicus briefs in two California wage and hour class action cases, Lubin v. Wackenhut and Augustus v. ABM, both involving contract security companies. The NASCO briefs were later joined by the U.S. and California Chambers of Commerce. The subsequent Appellate Court decision in the ABM case was considered a big win for the industry on the subject of “rest breaks.” In 2015 NASCO financed and submitted a follow up amicus brief, along with CALSAGA, as the case came before the California Supreme Court.
NASCO also held two first class industry conferences in 2015 with its February CEO Roundtable in Fort Lauderdale and its June Washington Summit. These events featured informative presentations from employment, labor, healthcare and benefits experts, industry analysts, academics, security business consultants, U.S. Chamber executives, federal officials, GAO staff and members of Congress. At the Washington Summit this year, one member of Congress “crashed” the event and addressed the group.
At the 25th annual NASCO contract security breakfast at the ASIS Seminar in Anaheim, NASCO awarded its “Colonel Edgar B. Watson Award” for service to the private security industry as whole to retiring ASIS Executive Director Michael Stack, who in his 23 years as the ASIS ED, missed only one NASCO breakfast! Here is the official description. Also at the breakfast, NASCO Executive Director Steve Amitay was awarded the ASIS Security Services Council “Vince Ruffalo Legislative Advocate Memorial Award” for his efforts at the state and national level.
Finally, in the area of security officer training, NASCO, NASCO members as well as ASIS International, completed work early in 2015 with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on an online training course for security officers. NASCO also contributed financially to its development. This hour-long training provides critical information for security professionals to help them recognize, observe, and properly report incidents or circumstances of missing, abducted and/or sexually exploited children. Since its creation, NASCO members Securitas, AlliedBarton, G4S, Covenant and the Akal Group have integrated the training into their officer training.
Another busy year for NASCO!