The Cogswell award was established in 1966 and is named in honor of the late Air Force Col. James S. Cogswell, who was the first chief of the unified office of Industrial Security. Col. Cogswell is responsible for the underlying principle of the Industrial Security Program. That principle is the need for a true partnership between industry and government to ensure the protection of classified information, materials, and programs.
The Cogswell award is the most prestigious honor the Defense Security Service may bestow to cleared industry. Of the more than 12,000 cleared contractors, less than one percent are annually selected to receive this award.
The criteria for the award focuses on the principles of industrial security excellence, which includes establishing and maintaining a security program that goes well beyond the minimum National Industrial Security Program requirements and providing leadership to other cleared facilities to set high standards for security.
To receive consideration for the Cogswell award, a facility must be nominated by their assigned Industrial Security Representative and have two consecutive superior industrial security review ratings. They also must show a sustained degree of excellence and innovation in their overall security program management, implementation and oversight. Beginning in 2007, a facility also must have responded to the annual Personnel Security Investigation (PSI) survey as a prerequisite for further consideration.
Once initially nominated, the nominees then go through a vigorous national vetting process that includes external vetting and a national team review. The national review team then consolidates and ranks the nominations, and that ranked listing is submitted to the Director of DSS for final approval.