Award comes as foreign agents seek to steal COVID-19-releated research
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M University System is in a class by itself in terms of protecting sensitive information from foreign agents who want to steal it.
For the second time in three years, the Texas A&M System won the Defense Counterintelligence & Security Agency Award for Excellence in Counterintelligence. The award is given for work to protect sensitive information from foreign spies. The System holds the distinction of being the only higher education institution to win the award more than once.
John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, said protecting research is vital nowadays, especially given a May 13 warning by the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency that COVID-related research likely is being targeted by the People’s Republic of China.
“The Texas A&M University System makes counterintelligence a priority,” Sharp said. “We intend to be a leader in protecting national interests and the sensitive work the Texas A&M System does in service to our country.”
The Texas A&M System is one of five entities to receive the prestigious award from the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency in 2019. It is the highest honor given by the U.S. Government in this category. More than 10,000 corporate and academic organizations were in the running.
The agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Defense, began giving the annual award in 2010 to recognize cleared contractors that best demonstrate the ability to stop foreign theft of U.S. defense and national security technology.
The Texas A&M University System conducts approximately $400 million in sensitive research for a variety of U.S. government sponsors.
Officials with the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency highlighted work of Dr. Kevin Gamache, the chief research security officer for The Texas A&M University System. They described Gamache as an expert who can provide first-hand insight into threats to American universities as well as how to fight those dangers.
The agency specifically offered praise for a briefing called “National Security in the 21st Century: Threats to Academia,” which Gamache delivered at FBI-sponsored summits and other events.
DCSA officials also recognized the Texas A&M System’s Office of Federal Relations in Washington, D.C. for working with Sen. John Cornyn’s office to draft language in the 2019 John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation includes the roadmap to address the threat to federally funded research at U.S. universities.
“Texas A&M’s investments in counterintelligence and secure computing keep Americans safe and help us stay on the cutting edge,” said Sen. Cornyn. “Congratulations to the students and faculty at the Texas A&M System whose hard work is recognized with this award.”
Source: The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation with a budget of $6.3 billion. The System is a statewide network of 11 universities; a comprehensive health science center; eight state agencies, including the Texas Division of Emergency Management; and the RELLIS Campus. The Texas A&M System educates more than 151,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $1 billion in FY 2019 and helped drive the state’s economy.