TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY (KBTX) On Wednesday, U.S. Senator John Cornyn and Daniel E. Payne, Director of the Defense Security service, honored Texas A&M as the recipient of the 2017 Defense Security Service Award for Excellence in Counterintelligence.
"This award represents the extraordinary achievement in keeping America's secrets and protecting the research that is being done on behalf of the defense department and the intelligence community from our adversaries," said Senator Cornyn.
In 2010, the Defense Security Service began giving out an annual award to recognize contractors, including universities, that best demonstrate the ability to stop foreign theft of United States defense and national security technology.
Texas A&M is one of two facilities out of 13,000 entities to receive the award, and is the only academic organization in history to be honored.
“Texas A&M System’s work in the intelligence field is public service at its finest,” said Sen. Cornyn, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “By helping the government detect, deter and disrupt the theft of sensitive information by foreign entities, the Texas A&M System’s investments in cybersecurity programs and secure computing help make sure America’s national security stays on the cutting edge.”
Since 2010, the winners of the award, including Texas A&M, have been recognized for an ongoing counterintelligence program that has been successful in protection vital national security information.
“The technology being stolen from us is being used to threaten our national security, our economic interests and our military,” Director Payne said. The Texas A&M System takes the protection of these technologies seriously.”
DSS counterintelligence agents work with corporations and universities like Texas A&M to prevent attempts by foreign intelligence groups from stealing or compromising sensitive data, information and assets. According to the agency's data, reports of suspicious activity have increased by 18 percent in 2016, and threats are expected to continue to rise.
Chancellor John Sharp said it's an honor that the Texas A&M University System is receiving such a prestigious award, and that they take their responsibilities seriously when it comes to counterintelligence and protecting their research and information.
“We at The Texas A&M University System take our responsibilities seriously, especially when it comes to counterintelligence,” Chancellor Sharp said. “For government agencies or corporations looking to protect their research and information, this national award is just another reason to do business with the Texas A&M System.”
"What this does is holds Texas A&M System's as the example for other people and other institutions to emulate," said Senator John Cornyn.
Dr. Kevin R. Gamache, who leads the Texas A&M System's counterintelligence operations, said academics are one of the fastest growing ways that foreign spies gain access to our research and technology.
Dr. Gamache and his team conduct approximately $330 million in sensitive research for a variety of U.S. government sponsors.