FSO Tip of the Month: Report Foreign Travel Painlessly with Access Commander

For FSOs, it is more important than ever to understand foreign travel reporting requirements which are covered under “counterintelligence” as defined by DCSA.

The year 2020 hasn’t been great for vacationing. But since the start of August, the world tourism industry has shown slow signs of recovery, and on Thursday, August the 6th, the U.S Department of State finally lifted its International Travel Advisory warning U.S citizens to stay at home amidst the global coronavirus epidemic.

In any case, if you or any person in your organization are planning to leave the country, the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) wants to know about it. For FSOs, it is more important than ever to understand foreign travel reporting requirements which are covered under “counterintelligence” as defined by DCSA.

One thing is for sure: when cleared individuals travel abroad, a lot of paperwork must be filed. Fortunately, the modules in Access Commander can simplify the process dramatically. In this article, we’ll recap what every FSO needs to know about reporting foreign travel, and how Access Commander helps get the job done.

Travel-Reporting Simplified

Since 2017, travel-reporting requirements for FSOs and cleared individuals have been defined by the Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD), Revision 3 (SEAD 3), which we covered in a past blog post.

In general, SEAD 3 stipulates that cleared personnel must file thorough self-reports before traveling to any foreign country, no matter the circumstances, although there are a few exceptions.

Self-reports must include a full itinerary of the individual’s travel plans, including:

  • Route and destination
  • Dates of travel and return
  • Mode of travel and carrier
  • Names of any traveling companions, regardless of any relation

Upon return, cleared individuals must report any encounter with foreign nationals, and any changes to their itinerary or destination while away. Reports are not required for travel to Puerto Rico, Guam, or any other U.S territories/possessions, as this is not considered “foreign travel”. For trips to Canada or Mexico, cleared individuals may forego reporting in advance, but they must report the trip within five business days of their return.

In some cases, the Department or Agency (D/A) an FSO reports to may require more details than those outlined in SEAD 3, or may choose to enforce those requirements with different degrees of leniency. In this case, FSOs should defer to their D/A and forward any questions about reporting requirements to them.

Reporting Foreign Travel with Access Commander

Fortunately, the modules in Access Commander cover everything your organization needs to manage foreign travel and associated reporting requirements. Three modules, in particular, are relevant to the portions of SEAD-3 described in this article.

  1. The Foreign Travel Module

The Foreign Travel module – located under the “Incident Reporting” menu on the main Access Commander dashboard – is your one-stop shop for filing and retrieving self-reports for any international travel or temporary duty assignments (TDYs). Multiple fields allow cleared personnel to capture any relevant information, while advanced search features allow FSOs to access and review records on the fly.

Data entered into the Foreign Travel module will automatically populate to other relevant modules, eliminating the need for duplicate data entry. If an employee has been registered through the Personnel Management module, for instance, then their profile will be updated to reflect their current travel itinerary when one is uploaded.

  1. The Foreign Contacts Module

While abroad, cleared employees may encounter foreign nationals in a variety of contexts. No matter the nature of the interaction, any such encounter must be reported within 5 days of the employee’s return. The Foreign Contacts module – also located under the Incident Reporting menu – enables every interaction to be recorded and accessed with the same convenience as a travel report.

Alternatively, individuals within the organization may wish to report suspicious interactions with non-foreign contacts and employees who are suspected of failing to report a suspicious interaction. SEAD-3 stipulated that cleared individuals have the obligation to monitor the activities and violations of their colleagues. The “Suspicious Contact Reporting” module enables them to do so, while the “Suspicious Contacts” module allows FSOs to access this information quickly.

  1. The Personnel Management Module

After reports have been filed through any of the modules listed above, it may be necessary to retrieve records on a particular employee and review their activities, violations or suspected violations over time. The Personnel Management module – located under the “Personnel Management” menu – covers employees that belong to your organization, while the “External Personnel Management” module covers contractors working on-site at any of your facilities.

Thanks to Access Commander’s integrated design, the relevant module can also be quickly accessed by clicking on an employee’s name while using the modules previously described. Access Commander’s advanced searches permits cross-referenced queries among the other subsystems.

Security Suite for Comprehensive Reporting

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