As the famous quote asserts, “Without standards, there can be no improvement.” For some time, protection professionals have recognized the security industry was void of consistency and in dire need of standards in executive protection.
This is not to suggest that there aren’t books written and published by individuals on how to conduct EP operations. However, a book written from an individual’s point of view does not constitute a STANDARD. In many cases, books are written based on the experiences of the individual author, which can differ and be influenced by various factors.
For example, if an author’s experience is solely based on government operations, they may have received the best training. However, they may not have the same level of experience operating in the private sector. Another example is if an individual has worked exclusively in the private sector. Factors, such as corporate cultures and budgets, drive and influence those experiences.
Security organizations are also developing their own versions of “Standards” or “Best Practices.” Generally, these documents are developed without significant industry input and have little to no transparency. They also lack the needed third-party validation of creating, editing, and approving standards in executive protection.
There are EP training schools that assert to set a standard for EP education. However, it is vital to ask the following question:
- How can they set a standard in the absence of one?
Most training schools operate independently without validating their teaching methods or content.
Whether it is a book, a self-proclaimed Standard, Best Practice, or training school, these are merely varying degrees of technique without industry input. This is not to say they are wrong, but they are unvetted by the industry.
What is a standard, and what makes it an industry standard?
What Makes a Document a Standard?
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) defines a “standard” as: “A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines, or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes, and services are fit for their purpose.”
“In layman’s terms, you can think of a standard as an agreed-upon formula for the best way of doing something.”
I would go further and add that a “Standard” is reasonable, repeatable/consistent, clear/understandable, measurable, and achievable.
What Makes a Document an “Industry Standard”?
A Standard is a document that has undergone a rigorous process of development, edits, and approval by a body of industry professionals. Also, it must pass thorough verification by an independent organization, such as ANSI, which validates the document development process.
Just a few of the items that ANSI validates per their ANSI Essential Requirements include:
Participation shall be open to all parties who are directly and materially interested in the activity in question. There shall be no undue financial barriers to participation. Voting membership on the consensus body shall not be conditional upon membership in any organization, nor unreasonably restricted on the basis of technical qualifications or other such requirements.
Lack of Dominance
The standards development process shall not be dominated by any single interest category, individual or organization. Dominance means a position or exercise of dominant authority, leadership, or influence by reason of superior leverage, strength, or representation to the exclusion of fair and equitable consideration of other viewpoints.
The standards development process should have a balance of interests. Participants from diverse interest categories shall be sought with the objective of achieving balance.
Evidence of consensus in accordance with these requirements and the accredited procedures of the standards developer shall be documented.
Written procedures shall govern the methods used for standards development and shall be available to any directly and materially interested party.
Once a proposed standard is written, ANSI will validate the entire process. As part of the validation process, documentation is produced demonstrating how the procedures and requirements were followed, the level of transparency shown by the standards developer, as well as how objections were addressed.
Why Is ANSI Relevant for Standards in Executive Protection?
According to the ANSI website:
“ANSI facilitates the development of American National Standards (ANS) by accrediting the procedures of standards developing organizations (SDOs) and approving their documents as American National Standards (ANS). This process serves and protects the public interest since standards developers accredited by ANSI – and the ANS they develop – must meet the Institute’s requirements for openness, balance, consensus, and due process and adhere to ANSI’s neutral oversight, assuring that all interested parties have an opportunity to participate in a standard’s development.”
“ANSI is not itself a standards developing organization. Rather, the Institute provides a framework for fair standards development and quality conformity assessment systems and continually works to safeguard their integrity. And as a neutral venue for coordination of standards-based solutions, the Institute brings together private- and public-sector experts and stakeholders to initiate collaborative standardization activities that respond to national priorities.”
“ANSI serves as a strong voice on behalf of the U.S. voluntary standards community, protecting and strengthening its impact domestically and internationally. Through its membership, partnerships, and diverse programs and activities, ANSI represents the interests of more than 270,000 companies and organizations and 30 million professionals worldwide.”
It is also important to note that ANSI does not allow competing standards. Therefore, suppose companies A and B are both ANSI-approved Standards Developers. And company A submits to ANSI a project to write a Standard. Then, company B must coordinate with company A. Company B would not be allowed to present a standard to ANSI on the same subject.
Why Is an ANSI-Approved Standard Important?
There are currently limited resources available to organizations/stakeholders in the areas of executive protection training and team evaluation. Without a rigorous standards development process, books, schools, and others are just considered “techniques” that cannot be applied to the assessment of teams by stakeholders.
Currently, only one ANSI-approved Standards Developer has submitted PINS (Project Initiation Notification System) to ANSI to create a Standard for Providing Executive Protection. That organization is the Board of Executive Protection Professionals (BEPP).
Presently, the BEPP has a Technical Committee, which comprises over 25 seasoned professionals, and a Working Group, which comprises over 100 industry-related professionals.
Both the Technical Committee and Working Group are in the process of creating the first proposed ANSI Standard for Providing Executive Protection. The BEPP also has registered 15 additional EP-specific standards with ANSI for future development. A list of those other topics can be found on the ANSI website’s Approved & Proposed American National Standards (ASD) page.