Security and the P3

Value creation is at the heart of everything we do, whether we’re self-employed, working for a private company or in a public agency. We provide products and services that are valuable to our clients and the public we serve. Corporate objectives, as a general rule, seek to continuously improve that value creation potential, turning to innovation, technology, best practices and alternatives to create ever more effective and efficient solutions.

This must have been on the mind of our Minister of Justice, the Right honourable Vic Toews when he spoke about the cost of public security at a conference last January:

«Police services face two options they can do nothing and eventually be forced to cut drastically, as we have seen in some countries; or they can be proactive, get ahead of the curve, and have greater flexibility in designing and implementing both incremental and meaningful structural reforms. It is critical that all levels of government and the entire policing community be engaged in innovation and reform efforts, so that we can turn a fiscal challenge into an opportunity to sustain our police services and better serve Canadians

Technology will increasingly become the catalyst to propel changes that will affect our entire society, including public and private security. The potential on the horizon is mind boggling and I’ll leave those possibilities to those with a better knowledge and understanding of these matters («Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy», published by the McKinsey Global Institute in May, 2013).

Technology is an enabler which can assist management in finding efficient alternatives through innovation and best practices. So while we wait for those technological game changers, why don’t we experiment and try alternative means to deliver public security services, by copying innovative practices that are found in our own backyard or even designing our own? After all, that’s how great innovating companies like Apple, have reinvented themselves to attain new levels of excellence.

A perfect example of such a practice is how CATSA (the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) has developed a public/private partnership with three large security firms (Garda, G4S and Securitas) to deliver aviation security screening in eighty-nine Canadian airports.

The CATSA screening officers, who are recruited, hired, trained (joint program, managed and certified by CATSA) supervised, dispatched, managed and controlled by these firms, are tasked with very important security duties that include the protection of civil aviation, the detection of explosives and weapons of all sorts, for paying customers, the travelling public.

The innovation sustaining this partnership lies in its governance model, the procurement approach and the true collaborative relationship that binds the parties together in contracts that are outcome based and performance driven! It’s a relationship that is based on the strengths of each partner, what is core to their «raison d’être», their mission.

The outcome that is sought is very simple: security screening services for passengers, delivered by a courteous staff, effectively, efficiently and in a consistent manner. This outcome is ensured and managed by measuring performance, leveraging an oversight program that captures data linked to key performance indicators identified in the contracts. The results are compared to performance targets agreed upon by all parties. Strong financial incentives are included, to align profits with performance and especially effectiveness.

I, for one, believe the same approach could be tested in the public security sector, by identifying those functions that could be delegated from police services to private firms, on the basis of similar performance based contracts.

This could apply at different levels and to a different extent to administrative services, training, crime prevention, some background checks, the management and reporting of minor infractions, some elements of crowd control and other tasks that are not considered core and that do not require a well trained and experienced police officer.

This would allow police services, municipalities, federal and provincial governments to maximize the full potential of its expert police force, while developing financial performance indicators, to better allocate limited resources to the most urgent security priorities.

This could take various forms, including effectiveness and efficiency ratios, comparing security costs for specific tasks, overall costs per citizen and so on. These indicators and ratios could be developed jointly through consultative committees or working groups including government authorities, public and private security experts, to copy best practices already in existence and applying it to the world of policing.

The same consultative committee could also support and assist police departments and government authorities in the development and identification of innovative solutions that could involve the community in its own protection, as demonstrated recently with the smartphone application EmergenSeeU, used by students on campuses across the United States (Security Management magazine, june 2013 edition, p. 42).

Only by measuring security, promoting innovation, trying and applying alternative delivery means, will we be able as a community of security professionals, to demonstrate the true value that security and especially public security brings to the Canadian public and the governments it serves.

Yves Duguay, EMBA   President, HCiWorld

Biographical notes:

Before launching his consulting firm, Mr. Duguay held the position of Sr Vice-president operations and customer experience at CATSA. Prior to his tenure at CATSA, Mr. Duguay began his security career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and subsequently joined Air Canada as its Senior Director of security. He holds an Executive MBA from McGill University and the Hautes Études Commerciales in Montreal. He is also a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors. Mr. Duguay is a member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, ASIS and the Airport Council International. He is a member of the Board and of the audit committee for the «Caisse Desjardins» in Verdun.