GTRI’s Warner Robins Field Office Wins Top Security Award

GTRI's Warner Robins Field Office
GTRI's Warner Robins Field Office

The Georgia Tech Research Institute’s (GTRI) Warner Robins Field Office is among the organizations receiving the highest national recognition for industrial security from the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA).

The field office was among 19 facilities of cleared defense contractors across the United States to receive a James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award for 2022. The awardees were selected from among approximately 12,500 facilities approved for classified research.

The Warner Robins facility, located in middle Georgia near Robins Air Force Base, was one of two University Affiliated Research Centers (UARC) to receive a Cogswell Award in 2023. The award is the second won by the Warner Robins Field Office (WRFO), and was presented by DCSA on June 7 at the annual NCMS training seminar in New Orleans, LA.

“Winning this award could have only been made possible by the dedication and hard work of all WRFO assigned personnel, who put forth the effort of adhering to the required federal regulations and local policies and procedures in protecting this nation’s most sensitive information,” said Al Concord, Director of Georgia Tech’s Research Security. “Partnerships between site management (Lee Evans), the on-site security team (Dondi White and Robert LaBuda), Research Security personnel on campus, senior leadership, and colleagues at the DSCA played a major role in meeting the high security standards recognized by this award.”

The Cogswell Award was established to recognize the importance of partnerships between industry and government to ensure the protection of classified information, materials, and programs. The award is based on the following criteria:

  • Overall security program
  • Senior management support
  • Security vulnerability assessments
  • Security education and awareness
  • Facility security officer and security staff level of experience
  • Classified material controls

Currently, some 60 GTRI researchers and staff work together to enhance the capabilities of Robins AFB – a significant economic engine for the middle Georgia region – in its national security mission, said Lee Evans, manager of the field office.

“Researchers in the WRFO work in the areas of electronic warfare; aircraft electronics upgrades; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); software development and systems engineering,” he noted. “Much of the work that GTRI performs for Robins AFB is joint between the WRFO and researchers located in Atlanta, including integrated support station development for EW suites, electronic countermeasures testing and analysis, EO/IR protection systems, equipment familiarization software, F-15 hardware and software support, and cybersecurity compliance for U.S. Air Force systems.”

Winning the Cogswell Award required not only deep knowledge of security and hard work, but also partnerships between field office staff and headquarters in Atlanta, said Dondi White, Facility Security Officer at WRFO.

“Receiving this award validates the tireless focus and efforts of all the Warner Robins Field Office personnel regarding security,” White said. “It is truly amazing to witness so many people not only demonstrate a deep understanding of security, but also the ability to apply that knowledge to real-world situations.”

Working in a field office with limited staff often requires many skills from a single specialist, added Robert LaBuda, Information Systems Security Manager/Assistant Facility Security Officer.

“I believe the biggest challenge of ensuring security of field offices is that all field offices only have one or two designated security professionals,” LaBuda said. “Administering an effective program requires those teams to wear many hats and be knowledgeable on numerous subjects. What makes the field offices of GTRI successful is our intense collaboration with each other and with HQ.”

Beyond the recognition for the work of security teams, the award demonstrates that Georgia Tech takes seriously its responsibility for security.

“Winning this award will continue to instill confidence in our valued U.S. government sponsors that WRFO and all of Georgia Tech will continue to excel in our excellence of governance, proper oversight, and adherence to the highest security standards to protect their sensitive information,” Concord said.

The team behind the award includes:

Warner Robins Field Office Personnel: Lee Evans, Field Office Manager; Dondi White, Facility Security Officer; Robert LaBuda, ISSM/Assistant FSO; James Herring, Sr. Research Engineer; Harriet Sheffield, Security (Retired).

GTRI Home Office Personnel: Al Concord, Director, Research Security; Jon Riling, Sr. Associate Director, Research Security; Ida Brown, Associate Director, Research Security; Dannie Lyvers, Insider Threat Program Sr. Official; Phu Le, Sr. Information Systems Security Manager; Renee Gourdine, Research Security Manager Sr.; Rupert Simon, Research Security Materials Manager; Richard Sharp, Research Security Manager; Shoji Harris, Research Associate II; Solomon Nelson, ISSO; Terry Culver, Research Security Specialist; Jorge Boyzo, Research Security Coordinator II; Tyrin Dowdell, Research Security Coordinator II; Corey Hightower, Research Security Specialist Sr.


Writer: John Toon (
GTRI Communications
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,900 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $800 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.

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